Galef, Griffo Call for Independent Budget Office

Legislation comes on heels of discovery that bills were analyzed by union-paid actuary
May 27, 2008

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and State Senator Joseph Griffo have introduced legislation that would create the New York State Independent Budget Office. This bill (A.7465/S.4618) would provide objective, non-partisan analyses of state revenue, expenditures, and management practices.

The creation of this new, independent budget office has become even more urgent and necessary, given the fact that new legislation was introduced in the past few weeks whose fiscal analysis had been provided by an individual who was also working for labor unions. Had this information not come to light, legislators would have voted on a bill with faulty fiscal notes.

“The Independent Budget Office would have prevented this appalling type of action from occurring,” Galef said. “This office would have ensured a fair review of the bills called into question. In addition, it would guarantee that legislators are given the truthful and accurate fiscal impacts of proposed legislation, enabling them to make better decisions. We would not have to worry that the facts presented are skewed to one point of view, as has sometimes been the case in the past.”

“I’m pleased that I’m able to partner with Assemblywoman Galef to help push this initiative through the Assembly as I work to get it through the Senate,” said Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R-C, Rome). “For many years, Sandy Galef has been a proponent for Albany reform and we think that this is an idea whose time had come a while ago. A fiscal clearinghouse that establishes numbers for all state legislators to draw upon would make budgetary decisions more efficient, transparent, and timely. If it works in the federal government, half of the other States and New York City, then we need to adopt it in New York.”

The duties of the NYS Independent Budget Office would include providing information concerning fiscal impacts to members and committees of the legislature. The non-partisan office would deal with the budget, appropriations bills and bills with fiscal impacts, estimated revenues and receipts, changing revenue conditions, the effectiveness of state agencies and programs, and analyses requested by officials or the general public.

At least 23 other states, including California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, and Vermont have established non-partisan budget offices to assist their legislatures.

Galef concluded, “This legislation would create fiscal reform that would help legislators become more knowledgeable and accurate in regards to fiscal responsibility and oversight. With a significant state budget, the creation of this Independent Budget Office is key to ensuring that the best and most fiscally responsible decisions will be made on behalf of New York taxpayers.”