ALBANY, NY – With the 2010-11 State Budget due in seven days, the first meeting of the Joint General Conference Committee was convened late this afternoon to try to achieve progress on New York’s spending plan. During the meeting, Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) said taxpayers are “looking for the budget process to get going” in order to deliver an on-time, fiscally responsible budget.
Leader Kolb said he would continue working in a bi-partisan fashion to help move the process forward and get a budget in place by New York’s April 1 fiscal deadline. Kolb also outlined a series of suggestions that would be distributed to the respective finance staffs of the Assembly and Senate Majority and Minority Conferences for further consideration and review. Some examples of Kolb’s suggestions offered this afternoon include the following:
- Exploring further State Agency mergers and consolidations to shrink the size and cost of state government. As an example, Kolb cited the final report issued this week by the Assembly Minority Conference’s Task Force on Workforce Issues in the Correctional System, indicating significant cost savings could be achieved by focusing on internal and possibly duplicative, administrative positions within the State Department of Correctional Services;
- Engaging in an honest and open dialog with New York’s public employee unions, encouraging them to be flexible with regard to renegotiation of contracts and a review of the state workforce’s size;
- Urging Governor Paterson to move forward with putting regulations in place to collect state sales taxes on cigarette purchases made on Native American lands by non-Native American Indians. The collection of these sales taxes could generate an estimated $600 million in revenue for New York State; and
- Ensuring that if state education funding is restored, it is done so for high-need school districts with a combined wealth ratio of under one in order to help alleviate the tremendous financial pressure on those districts.
“During our meeting today, I urged my colleagues that we need to work together in an open, bi-partisan fashion to get a budget in place. I also said we should do so without resorting to new tax increases or borrowing. The men and women of our Assembly Minority Conference are eager to move forward with a responsible spending plan that meets New York’s needs and addresses its long-term fiscal challenges head-on,” Kolb stated.