At the time this weekly legislative column is being prepared, the 2010-11 State Budget is now officially one day late – with no end in sight. This year’s late State Budget is the most recent, glaring example of why New York’s broken government – from top to bottom – is in need of an “extreme makeover.” To make just such an extreme makeover a reality, I recently called for Governor David Paterson and my fellow Legislative Leaders – Speaker Silver, Leader Sampson and Leader Skelos – to join me in a public budget forum to be broadcast and televised live, statewide next week.
STATE GOVERNMENT’S “EXTREME MAKEOVER” BEGINS WITH A PUBLIC FORUM ON THE BUDGET – BROADCAST LIVE FOR ALL NEW YORKERS
The public budget forum I am proposing would allow New Yorkers to learn exactly where the Governor and each Legislative Conference in the Assembly and Senate stands on the critical issues of taxing, spending and borrowing. It also would allow everyone to outline their specific plans for closing New York’s $9.05 billion budget deficit. I suggested that one of Time Warner Cable’s 24-hour news channels such as Your News Now (YNN) or NY1 News, along with public television and radio stations, serve as possible hosts of this hour-long budget forum, in addition to it being streamed live via the Internet.
As bad as the late State Budget is, even more frustrating for taxpayers is the fact that there is still no public, transparent schedule of how – or when – it will be completed from the Assembly and Senate Majorities. That is simply unacceptable and shows why our unresponsive state government needs such an extreme makeover that will correct these problems and, in the process, build a strong foundation of true transparency and greater accountability to taxpayers.
LAST YEAR’S BAD PROCESS WAS CONTINUED THIS YEAR
Last year’s State Budget was put together using a closed door, secretive process that excluded the Minority Conferences and rank-and-file Members. As I have mentioned in previous weekly columns, the spending plan it produced was fiscally irresponsible, contained $8.2 billion in new taxes and fees, a nearly 10 percent hike in government spending and exploded the budget deficit.
All of this occurred after Governor Paterson had publicly acknowledged New York was facing a severe fiscal crisis. Fast forward to 2010: Governor Paterson and the two Majorities have not yet been able to put together a fiscally responsible economic plan and are still talking about spending more money than last year – and borrowing $2 billion along the way.
Particularly frustrating is the fact that the Governor and the two Majorities followed the same bad game plan from 2009 and, in so doing, essentially shut out taxpayers, as well as the media, from what should have been a completely open, transparent and accountable budget process. We can do better, and New Yorkers deserve better.
TAXPAYERS DESERVE ANSWERS – AND A FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE BUDGET
I believe there has been too much talk and not enough action to ensure taxpayers know exactly where everyone stands on the late State Budget and what can be done to fix this broken process. It is time everyone put their cards on the table. My fellow Legislative Leaders should join me in asking the Governor to meet with us in a public budget forum to be broadcast and televised live, statewide, so taxpayers can hear and see our specific solutions and challenges for closing New York’s $9.05 billion budget deficit.
New Yorkers deserve answers from Albany and the public budget forum I am proposing would help provide them. It would serve as the first step toward the type of “extreme makeover” that New York State government so desperately needs. I will update you on any progress for my proposed public budget forum.
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.