Assembly Passes Legislation to Ensure State Budget is Balanced, Transparent and On-Time

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Forestburgh) announced today’s passage of landmark legislation she supported to revolutionize the budget process (A.2755).

“I commend Governor Spitzer for pledging to improve the executive budget and to make it clearer to legislators, the public and the news media,” Gunther said. “Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent and these reforms will provide a clearer picture of that.”

Gunther said the agreement eliminates the $200 million in “lump sum” appropriations for local initiatives – which were later divided up as member items. Instead, each local grant will be outlined in the budget and subject to the governor’s line-item veto.

The reform proposal would also mandate “quick start” budget discussions each November. In addition, the executive and legislative branches will meet quarterly and share briefings on key fiscal issues and performance.

Governor Spitzer also announced plans to make a budget presentation on January 31 that provides both greater detail and information that is easier to understand, according to Gunther.

“Passing two on-time budgets is good, but we can do better,” Gunther said. “Governor Spitzer and the Legislature have reached an exciting new agreement that will bring more balance, timeliness and transparency to the process.”

In addition, the plan will work to enhance the quality and accessibility of the information, thereby increasing transparency. Gunther said the budget reform plan will:

  • update multi-year financial plans each quarter;
  • provide detailed, multi-year receipt and disbursement forecasts;
  • assess the budget’s impact on local governments;
  • provide a detailed summary of state workforce levels – updated quarterly; and
  • provide detailed reporting on technology projects in excess of $10 million.
  • direct the State Comptroller to establish a revenue forecast by March 5 if the governor and Legislature fail to reach consensus by March 1;
  • require the Legislature to enact a balanced budget instead of simply proposing one;
  • build a new Rainy Day Reserve of 3 percent into the budget to prepare for responses to economic downturns or catastrophes – bringing the state’s combined Rainy Day Reserves to 5 percent; and
  • require the Legislature to explain the fiscal impact of its proposed changes to legislators and the public before a budget vote.