2010-04-09 / Top Stories

Senate Seeks To Fix Broken Budget Process

The State Senate Democratic Majority has unveiled comprehensive reforms to fix the state’s broken budget process and give New Yorkers a fiscally responsible budget, said a spokesperson for the Democrats.

“For decades, Albany ignored the need for wholesale changes to the budget process, instead opting for quick fix gimmicks and government by guesswork.

Within their first term in the Majority, Senate Democrats created a 7-point legislative package, sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger, which provides for long-term financial planning, the enactment of stricter accounting principles, and mandates stringent standards of accountability for Statefinanced programs and services,” the spokesperson said.

Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, “Years of a broken budget process and broken promises from pass-the-buck politicians have left our state on the brink of fiscal disaster. New Yorkers deserve better. Using dependable data and common sense solutions, these reforms will give New York a responsible budget that controls spending, creates jobs, and provides tax relief while protecting our investment in vital services.”

Krueger, chair of the Select Committee on Budget and Tax Reform and vice chair of the Finance Committee, said, “If any year demonstrates how fundamentally broken New York State’s budget process is, this is the year. We have a budget process that allows shady accounting practices and encourages a model of non-accountability for spending, revenues and borrowing. With this legislation I’m saying the buck stops here, because the State is getting too close to coming down to its last buck.”

Senator David J. Valesky said, “The financial crisis has taught us one very important thing — New York State must change the way it approaches the state budget process.

This budget reform package puts into place a responsible and comprehensive system that is based on definitive data and requires accountability and responsibility.”

Unlike other recent reform proposals, the Majority’s plan is a complete overhaul of the structural deficiencies in the budget process. “Either New York will break from these poor financial planning habits,” Krueger explained, “or the budget process will break New York.”

The Majority’s plan will

• Establish a two-year budget and require the Executive to submit twoyear financial plans in order to ensure proper long-term fiscal planning (S7160).

• Remove fiscal manipulations by requiring both the Executive Budget proposal and Enacted Budget to be balanced according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which will “fundamentally realign recurring spending with recurring revenue to restore the State’s fiscal health” as recommended in a recent report by the state comptroller (S7284).

• Task a 15-member Empire State Performance Commission with designing a performance based management and budgeting blueprint to streamline government and end waste and fraud within programs and services (S7259).

• Create a non-partisan Legislative Budget Office modeled after the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, which will remove the politics from revenue forecasting while simultaneously ensuring funds are not being used to create hidden slush funds by being stuffed away in “off-budget” public authorities. (S4526).

• End New York’s status as the only state with a budget date prior to the federal tax collection date, and shift the start of the fiscal year to June 1 to allow for proper fiscal planning (S5221C).

• Require the Executive, in their Annual Tax Expenditure Report, to list a cost-benefit analysis of all New York’s 380-plus tax break programs, to allow for the strengthening of programs which work, and ending of programs which waste revenue (S7347).

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