Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) today called this year’s state budget, which was passed today – two days before the April 1st deadline – a better product and better process for New Yorkers.
“If the all-night session two weeks ago was a nightmare for good government watchdogs and taxpayers, then this year’s budget process is a dream come true for reformers. This is a victory of product and process for taxpayers delivered by their state government,” said Tedisco, former Assembly Minority Leader and current Assistant Minority Whip.
Tedisco noted this year’s budget was released and voted on in stark contrast to the all-night session on March 14th and 15th when the state legislature passed measures for redistricting, casino gambling, expanding the DNA database, pension reform, and teacher evaluations – all while most New Yorkers and members of the press were sleeping. Important legislation such as the state budget is routinely enacted late at night away from public viewing.
Tedisco and several of his colleagues are introducing the NYS Government Transparency Act, to stop the clock on all legislative proceedings between midnight and 8 a.m., except in the case of genuine emergencies. The State Constitution requires bills to “age” three days so legislators and the public have an opportunity to review them. On March 14th, and in many instances when a budget is voted on, governors will issue a “message of necessity” to circumvent the three-day rule and push through major legislation without giving lawmakers and all New Yorkers much time to read the bills. This is the first year in recent memory a budget was allowed to “age” without messages of necessity being issued.
“To defend that late night, sleep-deprived legislative session, the excuse was that important policy agreements by New York's Governor and Legislature can't stand the scrutiny that openness and transparency provide. Clearly, the fact that 11 budget bills and fiscal agreements totaling $132.5 billion all survived the constitutional mandate of three full days of scrutiny without one message of necessity or late night session illustrates New York can provide good ends as well as good government process and means to the taxpayers of our state,” said Tedisco.
“The Governor and Legislature deserve credit for crafting a budget on time which spends less than the previous year’s plan, invests in education and contains no new taxes or fees, and for an open, transparent process. This enables lawmakers, the public and the media the appropriate time to read and digest the bills rather than rushing to pass legislation in the dead of the night,” said Tedisco.
“Let’s make sure this year’s state budget is the rule and not the exception,” said Tedisco.