Reform Proposal Will Make Budget More Transparent

Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) applauded an innovative budget reform agreement reached between the Assembly, Senate and the new governor to modernize the budget process. He also announced that the Assembly has passed legislation that he sponsored which will bring more balance, timeliness and transparency to the budget process (A.2755).

“A good example of what consensus building can bring has been seen with the passage of an on-time state budget during the last two years,” Magnarelli said. “We need to build on our past successes to ensure timely spending plans responsive to the needs of working families in Onondaga County.”

Under the budget reform agreement there will be no unallocated lump sums of member item money included in the budget. Instead, each local grant will be outlined in the budget and subject to the governor’s line-item veto. 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.

“While member items are important because they bring vital money back to the community, in recent years there has been no way for constituents to track where the money was going,” Magnarelli said. “Outlining where the money is going is a good step to bring transparency to the budget process, and restore taxpayers’ faith in their government.”

Under the reform proposal budget discussions will begin each November. In addition, the executive and legislative branches will meet quarterly and share briefings on key fiscal issues and performance. Magnarelli said the budget reform plan will also:

  • require the Legislature to enact a balanced budget instead of simply proposing one;
  • require the Legislature to explain the fiscal impact of its proposed changes to legislators and the public before a budget vote;
  • direct the State Comptroller to establish a revenue forecast by March 5 if the governor and Legislature fail to reach consensus by March 1; and
  • 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.

The reform proposal will also aid in the budget’s timely enactment. Any amendments to the executive budget would be submitted by the governor within 21 days – nine days ahead of the constitutional deadline, giving the legislators enough time to review the proposed changes and respond accordingly.

“The people of New York deserve a state government that’s accountable,” Magnarelli said. “This budget reform agreement will promote timely, transparent budgets. I am eager to work with the governor to adopt this agreement into law and continue improving the way Albany operates.”