A bipartisan campaign effort led by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Senator Vincent Leibell was launched today to reform New York by gathering public support for an amendment to the New York State Constitution (A.11231/S.7317) to change the process for budget adoption and ensure on-time-state budgets. Galef and Leibell will reach out to those residents in their districts as well as elsewhere in the state to lobby for this important constitutional change, which is critical to the future of the state.
Galef and Leibell agree that the Constitutional Amendment for budget reform needs to gain support from other government officials and the public so that second passage by state legislators will occur in the 2005 legislative session and that the voters will vote positively on this change at the polls in November 2005.
The New York Assembly and Senate also passed historic legislation (A.11702/S.7615) at the end of session to specifically outline the new budget process. "It’s About Time" includes:
- Move the start of New York's fiscal year from April 1 to May 1 to have better fiscal projections on revenues and expenditures
- Provide for a contingency budget equivalent to the budget of the preceding year to automatically go into effect on May 1 if no budget agreement has been reached
- Require a two year appropriation for education aid in order for school districts to know in advance what tax support they will receive from the state budget
- Create a reserve fund in ensure sufficient funds exist for the payment of education aid in May and June
- Require the Governor's office to submit its budget one week earlier and provide more information on the costs of current year services
- Establish an independent budget office to make revenue and expenditure projections.
Galef stated, "Every other government in New York has a law that requires a timely budget or there are consequences. New York State certainly needs the same kind of hammer to get the job done. For 20 years the budget process has been broken. Leading this campaign for budget reform with Senator Leibell will be a real challenge. It is our desire that all the residents of the state will support this most important grassroots effort and work with us to have a positive outcome in November 2005. Putting an end to late budgets has always been my top priority reform issue so that we can restore timeliness, accountability, and respect to the budget process."
Leibell commented, "Both houses of the Legislature have now, for the first time, passed legislation recognizing the critical need for changes that will guarantee we will never again have a late budget. It is crucial that we carry this message to the voters of New York State so they understand that there will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2005 which will require their ratification."
Joining Galef and Leibell in this effort are Putnam County Legislator Sam Oliverio, Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi, Putnam Valley Town Supervisor Carmelo Santos, Ossining Town Supervisor John Chervokas, Yorktown Town Councilman Nicholas Bianco, and Croton Village Mayor Robert Elliott.