As of today, the state budget stands over two months past due. Over 70 days have come and gone since the April 1 deadline, and what has transpired during that time can only be described as nothing short of a complete lack of leadership from the downstate majorities in the Assembly, Senate and the governor’s office. Instead of including the Assembly Minority in open discussions on a spending plan and ways to close New York’s growing $9.2 billion budget deficit, legislative leaders have resorted to pushing through critical budget legislation in the dark of night, leaving taxpayers to suffer, as programs go unfunded and projects go unfinished.
One-party rule of government has failed the people of New York State. Legislative leaders are ignoring budget reform laws that they created back in 2007. Their unwillingness to invite rank-and-file members from both political parties into public budget negotiations violates the laws of the State, and hinders the goal of achieving full transparency of the process. Instead of moving forward in a bi-partisan fashion to set New York on a road to fiscal recovery, the blame game and finger-pointing prevails among legislative leaders, all while families across the state are struggling to make ends meet as our economy suffers from a lack of direction.
To make matters worse, the governor has resorted to forcing his policies into weekly budget extender bills, which are whisked through both houses of the Legislature by party-line votes. The policy of piecemeal budget passage is not only misguided and shortsighted, but sets a terrible precedent for future budget activity. The governor is pushing through his own spending plan by cutting one area at a time, rather than delivering a comprehensive budget that would allow the Legislature to consider the impact of each cut on the total appropriations for each program. Nothing positive can come from these extender bills the way the governor has been presenting them; they only serve to prolong the problems plaguing the budget process.
The only way to right New York’s fiscal path is to reform state government and change the rules that continue to allow the downstate majorities to bludgeon our state’s economy. If legislative leaders refuse to lead and are incapable of leading, which is evident, then perhaps the best course of action is to call for a Constitutional Convention to take back New York State government for New Yorkers and permanently reform the way state government operates. As we close in on another week without a budget and another week with an ill-advised budget extender, New York taxpayers are left sitting on the sidelines as the state tumbles into fiscal ruin. The system is broken, and the time has come to make the decisions that will permanently fix New York’s problems.