Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R,C,I-Massapequa) today announced the state Legislature passed the state budget by its April 1 deadline for the first time in 21 years. He credits a new spirit of bipartisan effort and cooperation for the passage, but says there is still more government reform thatís needed.
"I was elected last year by the voters to bring reform to state government and do everything in my power to facilitate a budget that is on time and fair to the taxpayers of Long Island," said Saladino. "Through bipartisan efforts and a tremendous push from our colleagues in the state Senate, we have been extremely successful in achieving this goal. I am proud to be working in this new environment of bipartisanship and reform, and Iím thrilled to report that my efforts this past year have contributed to the success. However, in the true spirit of reform, we must make this year the rule and not the exception. Itís crucial that we have an on-time budget every year, and Iím committed to making this goal a reality."
Saladino, elected in a special election in February 2004, has served as a catalyst for reform since taking office. He said his highest priorities include curbing the dysfunctional legislative process and working to deliver an on-time state budget.
According to Saladino the passed state budget includes an increase in state school aid to each of the school districts in the 12th Assembly District.
"The reforms passed earlier this year allowed us to work more efficiently and gave the public more opportunities to experience the budget negotiation process, thanks to the open budget discussions that included all five legislative leaders, instead of the usual three-men-in-a-room process," said Saladino. "Through the dedication, cooperation and spirit of true reform, the Senate, Assembly and Gov. George Pataki were able to work together to pass an on-time, balanced state budget."
Saladino continued, "I thank our Long Island senators, my Assembly colleagues and Gov. Pataki for their resolve to work cooperatively to make our goals a reality. It has not been easy to bring an on-time budget while simultaneously fighting for our fair share of state funding.
"I look forward to continued good will between both sides of the aisle in the Assembly and serving in my role to build bridges between the political parties, as well as the various levels of government. In this manner, we will create more efficiency, experience less political fighting and give greater attention to the highest priorities of our residents, children and taxpayers."
Saladino said more reforms are needed. He has introduced a plan of statutory and constitutional legislation that would establish consequences for missing the less-publicized steppingstone deadlines leading to the April 1 requirement. The measures include allowing the state comptroller to intervene with a binding revenue forecast if the Legislature is unable to reach a revenue consensus by March 10 each year; establishing budget conference committees by March 15 each year; prohibiting the Legislature from considering nonbudget legislation after April 1 until a budget is adopted; and banning legislative recesses until a spending plan is approved, with the exception of religious holidays.