Along with the entire Assembly Minority Conference, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) today presented a new list of solutions that would help close this year's budget deficit as well as set up the state to guard against future deficits with long-term cost savings. In total, the plan could save over $3.5 billion mid-year and is the third proposal submitted by Hawley and his colleagues for the consideration of the Governor and other legislative conferences. To date, neither majority conference has publicly proposed any cost-saving solutions.
"The Governor has asked each conference to present cost-saving ideas and for years we have had a list of ideas ready and waiting. This is the third set of common-sense cost-saving solutions we have presented to the Governor and other legislative leaders. Our plan has no new taxes or fees, these are not proposals for new revenue; the state does not need new revenue, it needs to stop spending the same way families and businesses are already doing," said Hawley.
Among the proposals are initiatives to eliminate $130 million in unspent pork barrel accounts in both houses as well as a miscellaneous member item payment to the City of Yonkers for $4.5 million. Hawley stated, "Albany is asking every New Yorker to make sacrifices. It is outrageous that there is 'extra' cash in these accounts for members to spend on pet projects at home. Downstate leaders should not be allowed to hold onto this cash. They should be forced to make the same spending sacrifices as the rest of the state, especially the Western New Yorkers they are so willing to increase taxes on - from utilities to license plate mandates. This irresponsibility needs to stop."
Other proposals include measures to reduce redundancy in state government agencies. For example, merging administrative costs in the Department of Real Property Taxation with the Department of Taxation and Finance or the Consumer Protection Board with the Department of Law. These savings would amount to at least $924.6 million.
Another area that Hawley has taken a look at and discovered significant cost-saving opportunity is with the amount of money wasted on undispersed contracts. For example, if the state reduced the balance of these contract accounts by just 5 percent, over $300 million would be available to close this year's budget deficit. Hawley stated, "These contracts are not the type of contracts that will hurt outside business, not construction or highway jobs. These are the creative solutions that we have been working to find for months now and have presented time and again. It's time the majorities take our example, present their ideas openly or accept our proposals and run with them."