It occurs to me, as we close out 2004, that New York state government still has a long way to go before it becomes the efficient, representative government that I know it can and will be. I, for one, am excited for 2005. I believe the New Year brings new hope and renewed spirit for a better New York.
As I toured my Assembly district these past two years and listened to the input from many of my constituents, I am committed to continuing and enhancing my efforts on many issues for the upcoming year. I do take every constituent comment seriously, whether it is a problem with school funding or criticism of New York’s Medicaid problem.
REFORM – I will continue advocating on behalf of the recommendations made in a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law in 2004. The Brennan Center called for changes to the Assembly rules that would help make the state Legislature more efficient and truly more representative of the people. The Assembly Minority conference promises to bring these reforms to the floor for a vote this year. Recently, 27 Assembly Majority members signed a resolution of support for these reforms.
For me, the most important of all reform measures deals with the state budget. I am advocating on behalf of measures that the Assembly Minority conference and I have been fighting to get passed, such as:
- Changing the April 1 fiscal year start date to May 1
- Requiring approval of state aid for schools two years at a time, rather than annually
- Enacting the previous year’s budget if, on May 1, no agreement has been reached for the current fiscal year’s budget
- Requiring the governor to submit an executive budget by Jan. 15, or Feb. 1 for newly elected governors
- Limiting the governor’s executive budget amendment process to 21 days rather than the current 30
- Making agency budget requests available to the public at the time of the executive budget hearings
- Creating an independent budget office to forecast revenues and recommend spending options
- Providing a three-year fiscal plan with additional details
- Changing health care spending "on budget" category to fall under the Health Care Reform Act
- Requiring a current services budget be submitted with the executive budget.