New York Most Dysfunctional State Government

An article entitled The Six Most Dysfunctional State Governments on, hosted by the National Journal Group, a leading source of nonpartisan reporting on the current political environment and emerging policy trends, presents the nation’s six most dysfunctional state governments, based on interviews with a range of state political experts. The articles states that ratings are based on four criteria:

  • The quality of leadership – by the state’s legislature, its current governor and, where applicable, its ousted governor
  • The whiff of criminality in the state’s top political leadership
  • The severity of the state’s policy challenges
  • The intensity of the media circus surrounding state government

The states were graded in each category on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the worst, the most severe or the most intense, and 1 representing the most benign. The categories are averaged to produce a final score and ranking. The six states with the worst leadership, in descending order are:

6. California (with a total dysfunction score of 6.25)
5. South Carolina (dysfunction score of 7)
4. Alaska (dysfunction score of 7.25)
3. Illinois (dysfunction score of 7.5)
2. Nevada (dysfunction score of 7.75)
1. New York (dysfunction score of 9.25)

With New York being a media capital, it is likely to register a high dysfunction score particularly with so much media attention to the scandals in the Governor’s Office and the month long standoff in the State Legislature. But the article points out: “It’s not as if the New York legislature was a beacon of rectitude before the current mess began. According to a scathing series of reports by New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice, committees barely met, oversight of the executive branch was rare, required fiscal impact statements were never completed and Internet postings of legislative information were scattershot.” The Report titled Still Broken: New York State Legislative Reform 2008 Update states that at a minimum, both legislative chambers should meet the following five objectives:

1. Strengthen standing committees so that debate is robust and rank-and-file members can force a hearing or a vote, even over the objections of the committee chair
2. End the leadership stranglehold on bills coming to the floor
3. Allow ample opportunity for adequate review of all bills
4. Provide all members with sufficient resources and opportunities to fully consider legislation
5. With respect to all of the above, make records of the legislative process transparent and easily accessible to the public via the Internet