Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Coney Island, Dyker Heights) announced that budget reform legislation aimed at increasing transparency and modernizing the budget process passed the Assembly (A.2755).
“This legislation will enhance our past efforts in the Assembly to vastly improve the budget process,” Brook-Krasny said. “We in the Assembly recognize that while passing two on-time budgets was a good start, much more needed to be done.”
Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny said that last week, Governor Spitzer and the Legislature reached an agreement to bring more balance, timeliness and transparency to the process.
“This legislation eliminates the $200 million in “lump sum” appropriations for local initiatives, an important step in cleaning up the budget process,” Brook-Krasny said. “Now, instead of dividing the fund through unclear, undisclosed member items, each local grant will be outlined in the budget and subject to the governor’s line-item veto.”
The legislation also mandates “quick start” budget discussions each November. In addition, the executive and legislative branches will meet quarterly and share briefings on key fiscal issues and performance.
“There’s no valid reason why budget discussions shouldn’t begin as soon as possible,” Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny said. “This legislation gets us started on the budget each November and keeps the executive and legislative fiscal staffs diligently meeting on a quarterly basis.”
Brook-Krasny said Governor Spitzer plans to make a budget presentation on January 31 that provides both greater detail and information that is easier to understand. In addition, the legislation works to enhance the quality and accessibility of the information, thereby increasing transparency. Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny said the budget reform legislation:
- updates multi-year financial plans each quarter;
- provides detailed, multi-year receipt and disbursement forecasts;
- assesses the budget’s impact on local governments;
- provides a detailed summary of state workforce levels – updated quarterly; and
- provides detailed reporting on technology projects in excess of $10 million.
Brook-Krasny added that the legislation will also aid in the budget’s timely enactment by calling on the governor to submit amendments to his budget sooner and reforming the consensus revenue process – which generates official revenue estimates for the budget.
“This new, accelerated schedule gives the Legislature more time for important deliberations,” Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny said. “Legislative conference committees will also be required and discussed in public for additional transparency.”
The legislation also:
- directs the State Comptroller to establish a revenue forecast by March 5 if the governor and Legislature fail to reach consensus by March 1;
- supplements the balanced budget requirement by adding that the enacted budget – and not just the submitted budget – must be balanced;
- builds a new Rainy Day Reserve of 3 percent into the budget to prepare for responses to economic downturns or catastrophes – bringing the state’s combined authorized reserve funds up to 5 percent of annual spending; and
- requires the Legislature to explain the fiscal impact of its proposed changes to legislators and the public before a budget vote.
“This budget reform legislation we passed promotes more balanced, timely and transparent budgets,” Brook-Krasny said. “I look forward to the governor signing this important legislation into law.”