Dinowitz Blasts Decision by Court of Appeals on Budget Decision That Constrains Legislatureís Role in Budgetary Process

December 17, 2004

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is harshly criticizing the ruling handed down on Thursday by the New York State Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals ruled that the power to make budgets lies in the hands of the Governor.

The Courtís ruling affirmed the findings of the lower courts: the executive budgetary process put in place in 1927 gives governors the exclusive right to propose budgets. The Legislatureís only power, the court found, is:

  1. Delete or reduce expenditures on items in the governorís budget; or
  2. Add new items of spending on separate lines but subject to the governorís line-item veto; or
  3. Refuse to pass the budget

The budgetary process is reduced to two outcomes: approve the governorís budget or negotiate. Every year the Assembly chooses to negotiate. Assemblyman Dinowitz stated, "This decision fails to locate the power with the people of New York. Everyone now is dependent on the governorís budgetary decisions, effectively disenfranchising voters."

"The Court has essentially left us with two choices: rubber stamp the Governorís budget or force a late budget in order to change the proposal put forth by the governor. It doesnít leave any room for the Legislature to change the budget. Next year, before critics attack the legislature for a late budget, they should realize that the alternative is adopting the Governorís budget as is. This ruling makes it more urgent than ever that the Assembly/Senate budget reform legislation -vetoed by the Governor - becomes law," Dinowitz concluded.