From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Herman D. Farrell Jr. • Chair, Assembly Ways and Means Committee
Assembly passes budget reform package that puts taxpayers first
Legislature convenes conference committees to enact meaningful reform
The Assembly recently passed a comprehensive reform plan to make New York’s budget process more open, accountable and efficient (A.9615).
Taxpayers should feel confident that their tax dollars are being spent wisely and efficiently. This plan overhauls how the budget is negotiated and shines light on state spending by making more expenditures subject to budget negotiation checks and balances. This will ensure that the right choices are being made for working families.
The Assembly and Senate are now holding a conference committee to iron out differences in each house’s version of these reforms. Working across party lines with the Senate will go a long way toward making reform a reality.
Increasing accountability and timeliness
The Assembly’s reform package would change the beginning of the fiscal year from April 1 to May 1. Starting the state’s fiscal year a month later will lead to more accurate revenue forecasts and give the Legislature more time to review the details of the governor’s budget proposal so better decisions can be made.
The Assembly also expects to pass another bill that creates a two-year education spending plan to provide schools the resources they need to plan ahead (A.9711). By setting up a two-year school aid plan, the Assembly proposal gives schools the information they need to plan timely budgets and prepare programs that meet high standards. It also reaffirms the Assembly’s commitment to protect property taxpayers from higher tax bills. The two-year plan guards against education cuts that could force school districts to raise taxes.
The Assembly’s reform package would also:
Removing obstacles to budget negotiations
The plan also creates a state legislative budget office to provide objective, non-partisan analysis of state revenues, expenditures and management practices. The office would be modeled after the Congressional Budget Office and the New York City Independent Budget Office.
A legislative budget office would make a revenue forecast that could be used to make decisions in a non-partisan manner.
Streamlining state operations and improving oversight
To improve efficiency and save taxpayers’ dollars, the Assembly’s plan would also:
To address the lack of accountability within state authorities and public benefit corporations, the Assembly’s plan would also require state-related spending by most authorities involved in state functions to be subject to legislative oversight.
Another portion of the plan creates the Health Care Reform Act State Budget Transition Fund which would receive HCRA revenues and be under the watch of the state comptroller. More than half of the program, or approximately $2 billion annually, is currently "off-budget" and not subject to the normal financial checks and balances that would ensure accountability. The governor would be required to put this spending "on-budget" by providing appropriations for this program in his budget proposal.
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