Working Toward an On-Time Budget

March 17, 2005

My Assembly minority colleagues and I held a press conference in Albany on Monday where we unveiled our "New York State Budget Countdown Clock." The clock will remain outside Minority Leader Charles Nesbitt’s office to serve as a reminder to everyone of the pending April 1 budget deadline.

We have been asking for significant changes in New York’s budget process. A cornerstone of our plan is implementation of budget conference committees, which are bipartisan work groups from the Assembly and Senate that are charged with hammering out a state budget agreement between the two houses. This year, the Legislature implemented budget conference committees and they began meeting on March 15.

I’m honored and excited to be the Assembly minority conference representative on the Budget Conference Committee on Economic Development, especially because it’s an issue of great importance to the Finger Lakes Region and Central New York.

It is an exciting time in Albany where we are seeing first hand reform measures being put in place and working. You may recall in recent years, I have joined with my colleagues in requesting that the elected State Comptroller be the final arbitrator on anticipated budget revenues if an agreement is not in place by March 10th.

This agreement was approved by the Legislature; however, this safeguard was not needed this year because for the first time in a very long time legislative leaders reached an expected revenue consensus before the deadline.

There were more improvements to this year’s budget process: minority leaders of both houses are included in ongoing budget talks, and negotiations for a new spending plan have been open to the public. Adding transparency to these meetings, I believe, has streamlined the budget process and has provided greater accountability for our legislative leaders thus leading to meaningful budget reform.

While I am very hopeful for an on-time budget, and have committed to working 24/7 if needed to pass the budget on-time; this year, in my opinion, has forever changed our budget process for the better. New York has needed government reform for some time, and I truly believe we have its beginnings at our fingertips. I will work, to the best of my ability, to see this through and make a stronger, more efficient New York for all of us to work, live and most importantly raise our families.