27 days and counting – even less by the time this weekly legislative column is published – until New York’s April 1 fiscal deadline when the 2010-11 State Budget is due. With that looming deadline fast approaching, I believe that all 212 legislators and Governor David Paterson need to get back to work on the budget and focus on deliberations, not distractions.
The “distractions” I refer to are the allegations recently lodged against the Governor and a member of his staff. While that matter is investigated and certain politicians in Albany pontificate on every latest twist and turn, New York’s budget deadline moves another day closer without any substantive progress. The reality is that we live in the age of an inescapable 24/7 media cycle that places a premium on conflict and controversy over substance and real solutions. As such, the allegations concerning the Governor, along with the ensuing media firestorm, have made achieving any tangible progress on the 2010-11 State Budget extremely difficult, if not impossible.
However, despite the backdrop, I believe that taxpayers want us to get back to work on the primary responsibility for all 212 legislators and the Governor alike: passing the State’s Budget and doing so by New York’s April 1 fiscal deadline. That is what the people deserve, what they should expect and what we must deliver. What we cannot do is go back to the bad old days, when New York’s budget was routinely late – during one embarrassing stretch, it was late for 20 consecutive years – or decided in virtual secrecy the way last year’s bad budget was.
In an effort to jumpstart budget deliberations and achieve a fiscally responsible, on-time spending plan, on Thursday, I announced our Assembly Minority Conference’s appointments to the Joint Budget Conference Committee. As required under the Budget Reform Act of 2007, the Legislature is directed to utilize Conference Committees among the Assembly and Senate to organize budgetary deliberations, set priorities and reach timely agreement on a state spending plan. In the past, Conference Committees have been used to great effect to move public budget negotiations forward and break the cycle of three-men-in-a-room that was previously utilized to decide the state’s budget.
My goal was to help move the budget process forward and refocus legislators and the media on what truly matters: adopting a timely fiscal blueprint that will help New York navigate the perfect financial storm. Our conferees will advocate for a fiscally responsible budget that supports private sector job creation, delivers real tax relief and reduces government spending.
These are our priorities and what we believe the State Budget should reflect. With only 27 days remaining before the budget is due, and a projected two-year budget deficit of $9.05 billion needing closure, we cannot afford to waste a single day. At a public Legislative Leaders’ meeting on Wednesday, I reminded the Governor and my colleagues that last fall our Conference had offered a series of budgetary savings proposals and stood ready to work in a non-partisan fashion for a budget that meets our economic challenges and puts New Yorkers back to work. I will continue to keep you updated on any new developments on the budget front.
CAYUGA COUNTY TOWN HALL MEETINGS NEXT SATURDAY
So far, my 2010 Town Hall Meetings have been a huge success, as every community forum was well attended and featured great questions from local taxpayers who asked about the 2010-11 State Budget, how we can fix our economy and grow the private sector. Next Saturday, March 13, I will bring my 2010 Town Hall Meetings to Cayuga County, stopping in Moravia, Auburn and Montezuma. Specific times and locations for our upcoming Town Hall Meetings across Cayuga County are listed below – if you have a free moment, stop by and say hello!
CAYUGA COUNTY TOWN HALL MEETINGS: SATURDAY, MARCH 13
10:00 – 10:45 am, at Powers Library, 29 Church Street, Moravia
11:15 am – Noon, at the Owasco Town Hall, 2 Bristol Avenue, Auburn
12:30 – 1:15 pm, at the Montezuma Town Hall, 52 Dock Street, Montezuma
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter, should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and informational updates regarding state government and our Assembly Minority Conference.