bipartisan coalition of liberal Republicans and Democrats, most of whom represented urban areas. However, throughout this period the Old Guard blocked enactment of the most radical proposals such as unemployment insurance and public development of the state's hydroelectric resources. 14
Yet in spite of the fears of conservatives, Hughes, Smith, and Roosevelt favored a limited role for government in New York. All three rejected the idea of laissez-faire, but they exercised caution when enlarging public functions. Many of their proposals focused on negative state action such as restrictions on women's labor and prohibitions like those contained in the 1907 pure drug law. Positive government intervention was usually confined to improving traditional public services such as schools and hospitals. Al Smith devoted much of his time to creating a statewide network of parks. Although FDR had a more flexible and expansive view of government than his predecessor, he too emphasized the construction of public facilities, especially prisons to reduce overcrowding. Under the impact of the Depression, Roosevelt initiated state aid for unemployment relief, and he called for old age insurance. But his welfare program did not go much beyond this. With the possible exception of workmen's compensation, the Empire State generally failed to undertake activities which in any way guaranteed New Yorkers a minimum standard of living as a matter of right. Indeed, committed to the principle of balanced budgets, the state's liberal chief executives hesitated to increase current spending. Governor Smith cut taxes while supporting bond issues for needed public works. Not until 1932 did Roosevelt reluctantly give up the cherished policy of pay-as-you-go to borrow for unemployment relief. 15 In 1938, Roosevelt himself acknowledged that "during the twenties, I in common with most liberals did not at the start visualize the effects of the period, or the drastic changes which were even then necessary for a lasting economy." 16
Most New Yorkers did not accept the need for "drastic changes" until the Depression hit bottom. By then FDR had moved to Washington, and his lieutenant governor, Herbert H. Lehman, had taken over the reins of government in Albany. His predecessors had generated a momentum for reform, but the question remained whether Lehman would follow the lines set down by Hughes, Smith, and Roosevelt or would venture in new directions.