Fitzpatrick Calls for Budget Reform In 2004
Assembly Minority seek to repair the budgetary process
January 29, 2004
My Assembly Minority colleagues and I have unveiled our budget reform plan for the 2004 legislative session, which was detailed earlier this month in our legislative action plan, "Roadmap to Renewal." Legislative action in Albany is heading in the direction of budget reform. The Senate recently passed its Budget Reform Act of 2004 and Gov. George E. Pataki outlined his plan for budget reform in his State of the State address and his 2004 budget address. There are now three proposed plans for budget reform. Is this the year the Legislature reverses its trend -- 19 years of late budgets -- and enacts legislation to repair a process that is clearly not working? Repeatedly late budgets have hindered state finances and created a loss of public trust and confidence in government. We can do better. Key provisions of the Assembly Minority conference budget reform plan include:
- Establishing a binding revenue forecast, which allows intervention by the state comptroller if the Legislature cannot achieve revenue consensus.
- Permanently establishing budget conference committees that require open public debate of revenue and spending issues.
- Creating a default budget if a budget agreement is not in place within 72 hours of the April 1 deadline. The previous yearís budget would automatically go into effect.
- Prohibiting action on non-budget related bills. All action on bills not directly related to the budget would be prohibited if the budget were not adopted on time.
- Prohibiting the use of "lump sum" disbursements. Increasingly, the Legislature has used "lump sums" to pay out sizeable amounts of tax dollars without public disclosure of the recipients. Open disclosure would help restore confidence and build support for worthwhile programs.