30 March, 2010

New York State in Severe Fiscal Crisis

Every Sunday around midnight, for more than the past two years, I've logged into the New York State Unemployment Insurance web site to certify my weekly claim for unemployment benefits (my whopping $60/week!).

This past weekend, around midnight on Sunday, I logged into the web site without any difficulty. When I attempted to certify my weekly claim, as I had always done, I was advised that the site was experiencing technical difficulties and could not be access at that time. I tried, for the first time ever, to certify my weekly claim by calling in to the NYS Unemployment Office Certification number. I got up to the point where I choose the option to certify my weekly claim, and was advised that my request could not be completed at that time due to "technical difficulties."

When I am able to certify my weekly claim before noon on Sunday, I receive my money on my debit card (issued by NYS thru Chase bank) very late Monday night. If I complete my weekly unemployment certification between noon on Sunday and late Sunday evening, the money goes onto my card late Tuesday night. After late Sunday evening, the money goes onto my card late Wednesday night.

I repeatedly attempted to file my weekly certification for unemployment benefits at various points throughout Sunday, both online and via telephone. I was unable to do so until very very late Sunday night. I find it very convenient that New York State's fiscal operating budget expires tomorrow, Wednesday, 31 March 2010 and the State Legislature has failed--yet again--to pass a new budget (I think the last time a budget was passed by the New York State legislature on time was at some point before the birth of my now-deceased grandparents).

To make matters even more interesting (and dire), I was advised by a source (who must remain anonymous) about conversations that were overheard today while they were inside of a state-run mental health clinic (owned and operated by the NYS Office of Mental Health (NYS OMH)). Apparently, their (the office's) telephone service wasn't working properly because the telephone bill hadn't been paid. Other overheard conversations were that half the power in the building wasn't working because the electric bill hadn't been paid.

The final overheard conversation was that the entire administrative staff throughout the entire NYS OMH will no longer be employed as of 1 April 2010, as they are all temporary employees employed via an employment agency under contract with NYS, and as the state budget has yet to be passed (and a vote to extend financing of vital NYS operations also has failed to have passed), the contract will not be renewed and all administrative workers throughout the agency state-wide will be without a job. This also leaves the entire agency, on a state-wide basis, without any administrative workers; just the clinicians and doctors will be left to run things.

This paints a very pretty picture of the current fiscal condition that New York State is in. Forget getting your income tax refund from New York State any time in the near future; right now they can't even pay their own bills to keep their own offices running and pay the employees who have kept state government running for ages (thru the contractual employment of temporary employees via an employment agency, which--of course--obviates the need to provide such employees any benefits).

Given all of the above information, things do not look good at all for the fiscal state of the State of New York--and this is but a minute piece of the pie.