Last week, we started the annual Assembly Minority “Budget Countdown Clock” and, one week later, I remain discouraged that despite a lot of talk about inclusion and bipartisanship, this year’s budget negotiations have continued to resort to three New York City men in a room – from Harlem, Manhattan and Queens – and worse. In the past, the only opportunity to publicly vet the budget was during Joint Budget Conference Committees; yet, with one week remaining until this year’s budget deadline, they have not even been announced.
Without this opportunity to discuss the budget in a fair and open manner, the people of New York are left in the dark. For all those individuals and groups that have made the trek to Albany, who have taken the time to write a letter or e-mail, or who have called expressing their concerns, this is a slap in the face to them and to our democratic process.
My door is always open. As a public servant, I do not believe in working behind closed doors. I have had the pleasure to meet with many groups, not only from Western New York, but from across the entire state and to hear their concerns regarding this proposed budget and the closed-door process. I can tell you that people are upset, from Long Island to Buffalo. This is not the type of change they hoped for.
I believe very strongly that positive change can happen by taking that first step and while I encourage the legislative leaders to take that step into the daylight, I will also continue to serve the people of New York State with openness, transparency and accessibility. I will continue to do everything within my power to make sure your voices are heard in the State Capitol during this budget’s final negotiations and throughout this legislative session.