Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua) today called on the state’s senior, downstate officials to provide budget transparency. Kolb decried the actions of the Governor, Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader as the state confronts an historic $14 billion deficit. Kolb noted the significant actions state leaders will have to take to address such a bloated deficit and argued that now is not the time to exclude the public or the media.
“This week, we celebrate Operation Sunshine Week – a national movement calling for openness in government,” Kolb said. “Yet, here we have a governor from Harlem, a speaker from Manhattan and a senate majority leader from Queens addressing the budget behind closed doors. It would be ironic if it weren’t so frightening.”
Kolb was particularly concerned with the likelihood that legislative leaders would impose sweeping new taxes to close the budget deficit. He noted New York’s already oppressive tax burden, ranked as the second-highest taxed state in the nation. Kolb raised concerns with any new surprises passed along to taxpayers in the form of new taxes.
“With each passing day, we hear talk of increased sales, income, health care, gas and utility taxes,” said Kolb. “I am calling on all citizens to express their disapproval of a policy that excludes them from such critical decisions like those that may significantly raise their taxes. The time is now to stop the rumors and open up the budget process to all New Yorkers.”
Kolb also helped to unveil a budget clock signifying the condensed time period state leaders face in passing a transparent, on-time budget. He called upon leaders to follow legal and historic precedent. Previously, transparency, bipartisanship and geographic representation were achieved through a budget process that relied on public conference discussions.
“It is essential we enable the media and general public to scrutinize policies affecting their wallets and communities. It also ensured that citizens from across the state, not just New York City, were entitled to have their views represented. Finally, the sense of bipartisanship we foster when all elected officials debate and reach compromises will help us confront serious budget decisions,” said Kolb.