NYFirst: Budget Reform Legislation

When looking at the State of New York over the past 19 years, there
is definitely one thing that is common over that period of time. That
would have to be New York State’s late budget. For the 19th time, over the
past same amount of years, New York State has had a budget that wasn’t on
time. This has come to be a major problem over the years, and now the New
York State Assembly Republicans’ have come up with supposed solution to the
problem; This is the NYFirst set of reforms for better government, and one
of them being Budget Reform. Budget Reform is a very political issue on
both sides of the aisle, with one side caring more about other issues
concerning the budget like trying to better it from the Governor’s proposal
(The Democrats), than that of it being on time. The governor can play a
big role as well. Both sides and their different points of views will be
looked at regarding NYFirst’s Budget Reform package, and therefore, both of
their thoughts are going to be different about what to do, and what to
worry about in the long run for the State of New York.

The Assembly Republicans in New York have a very sound view when it
comes to the budget in this state, and that is basically that it should be
on time every time. The proposed Republican plan for budget reform is all
shown in the Assembly Bill #1258 which was introduced in 2003 (Assembly
Bill#1258). The bill was introduced by Minority Leader Charlie Nesbitt,
and all other 46 Republican members, is one which calls for change, and for
the betterment of the entire process. This bill is a new bill, and has
never been introduced in the Assembly yet. This NYFirst: Budget Reform
package has seven reforms it wants to see happen. It calls for 1) Revenue
forecasts by March 1st from all four legislative fiscal committees and the
State Comptroller, 2) A binding forecast by March 10th will be imposed by
the Comptroller if no agreement, 3) Conference committees by March 15th to
discuss the budget publicly, 4) A Default budget if still not passed within
72 hours; the previous years budget goes into effect, 5) No non-budget
bills after April 1st if not passed already, 6) Fiscal stability, and 7)
Plain language summary of the hard to read budget (GOPoints April 1st).

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All of these reforms are set out to make the state run better, and more
efficient.

The Assembly Republican minority truly thinks that these reforms
would solve the late budget process, and finally stop all of the troubles
late budgets do to the state as a whole. The Republicans’ say a late
budget has a great dismal effect on New York, and its people. Three
examples that could be used for this would be how it effects school
districts, not-for-profit organizations, and local governments (Late
Budgets and…3). These examples are ones, which present great evidence as
to why the budget process should be passed on time. “Businesses can’t
expand and invest in new jobs and schools are forced to ‘guess-timate’ how
much money they have for programs,” as stated by Charlie Nesbitt when
talking about the impact of a late budget (Legislative Gazette 5). In a
forum conducted by the Republican Assembly Minority Committee last year,
numerous people from the for mentioned examples above were present to voice
their opinion about the late budget. In one forum from Western New York,
Robert W. Smith, Superintendent of Elba Central School District, stated
that, “Last year’s extremely late budget made it impossible for Elba
Central School District to accurately predict revenue or to set tax rates.

The result was a tax rate too low to meet needs….” (Late Budgets…2).

These statements along with others were all in favor of this Republican
Assembly reform package. Another example that could be used as an example
of how a late budget can effect in a negative way would be from a forum in
Albany, by Marvin LeRoy, Jr., Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s
Association of Northeastern New York. He said that, “In my personal
experience as an individual running non-profit organizations for almost two
decades, I have spent my entire career living with the consequences of
unpredictable and uncertain state budget funding streams” (Late
Budgets…6). These two examples are just a couple of the many horrible
consequences of having a late budget; the Republicans think that it has to
change. The groups mentioned are truly effected by the late budget
process, and would be benefited by having an on time budget, by far.

The NYFirst: Budget Reform package is one of enormous importance to
the Republican Party in the Assembly. It is the first of its kind in this
particular branch of government in New York. “It is astonishing to hear
that the Assembly has passed over 3,100 mostly “one-house” bills (with no
possibility of ever becoming law as they are not sent to the Senate for
their review) in the absence of an enacted state budget,” said
Assemblywoman Sandra Lee Wirth (News from Sandra…2). She basically
stated that all of it is “senseless, wasteful, and counterproductive”
without even making the budget on time (Sandra Lee Wirth).

This package of reforms is something that Assembly Republicans’ want,
but is under scrutiny because of party affiliation. It is said that the
Assembly is ‘the people’s house’, but only under the Speaker’s approval of
bills. The concept of ‘people’s house’ is no longer valid if you think of
it that way. (Capital News…1). It basically says that people don’t get
their fair say in government. Even though this legislation is the first of
its kind in the Assembly, it isn’t in the State Senate. Senate Republicans
have in the past years approved similar plans about budget reform while
Assembly Republicans are criticizing Assembly Democrats for not introducing
a plan sooner (Legislative Gazette 5). It is unfortunate that the so-
called “people’s house” can’t be less partisan, and be more for doing the
right thing, which would be beneficial in the long run for the people, and
state of New York. The Republican plan is one in which has good ideas and
intentions, but overall, its up to the Democratic Majority to decide if it
goes through or not. “I think they think it’s a joke,” said Fairbanks
Schools Superintendent, “How do you go 19 years in a row? Either the
legislators believe it (the deadline) is a useless, no-harm provision that
hurts on one or they are just completely irresponsible” (Daily Freeman
April 2). This statement is yet another critic of the late budget process,
and it just pushes the NYFirst: Budget Reform package up in public opinion
as the right thing to do for the state. It can be said that the Assembly
Republicans truly want this package of reforms for the right reasons, and
the Assembly Democrats are ones that are the only thing to stand in its
way.

Now the points of view changes regarding the NYFirst: Budget Reform
package. The Democratic majority has a more laid-back feel when it comes
to an on time budget. No one in their right mind would disagree with the
notion of having a state budget on time as being a terrible thing, but just
having certain priorities come first. Democrats in the State Assembly feel
that a “late is better than never policy” feel about an on time budget, and
that a “great late budget is better than an on time budget that isn’t good
at all” (Daily Freeman April 2). By having this certain philosophy that
the budget being late is the least of their worries, the Democrats worry
more so about trying to balance the budget and fight more towards making
sure certain aspects of the budget for the upcoming year fund adequately
for different parts they want. Rather than worry about having an on time
budget, Democrats are trying to make a budget that more so upholds
education and healthcare funding, and undermines the Governor’s proposed
budget. “Nearly every aid category specifically targeted to high need
children, or designed to help students increase their achievements has been
wiped out. That is the educational future that this budget envisions, and
that is the wrong choice that this Governor makes” (Statistical and
Narrative Summary…1). This statement is one key aspect of what the
Democrats worry about when the budget is presented each and every year.

Assembly Democrats don’t worry as much about making an on time budget, as
they do about making a budget that addresses all their needs for certain
aspects included in it. The Democrats have a majority of 103 to 47 in the
Assembly, so if they want to discuss issues that matter to them more so
than passing a budget that they overall don’t agree with, they can do as
they please. With looking upon the NYFirst: Budget Reform package from the
Democrats point of view, you can truly see that they don’t care so much as
to how long it takes, but how much they can restore from the Governor’s
original slashing proposal. “We may choose to go our separate ways,” said
Speaker Silver about the Governor’s proposed budget. It can be said that
the Democrats would restore many of the education and health cuts sought by
the Governor (NY Daily News April 8). These are the main concerns from the
Democrats when it comes to the budget, so the NYFirst: Budget Reform is the
least of their concerns. The only thing that matters to them is that they
have the majority, and with having that they can take as much time as they
want to debate.

Both sides of the aisle take different views when looking upon the
NYFirst: Budget Reform package. Both sides also were looked at
individually from each perspective as well. The Republicans know that this
set of reforms is a great idea. The Democrats recognize the budget reform
package as being a good idea, but they don’t like the power it would drain
from them (their majority “do what they want” rule), and they’d rather make
a budget that fits their needs later, than one that doesn’t on time. Both
sides of the aisle would have to realize though the impact the governor
could cause if he decides to use his “short-term emergency spending bills,”
which he produces. With that said it left most lawmakers saying it would
be better for the Legislature to do its own budget rather than agree to the
Governor’s proposals (Times Union April 9). “If we use the governor’s
budget and cut staff and increase class sizes and cut programs-and then
later, the Legislature modifies the budget, we’re stuck,” said Fairport
board member Kenneth Harris (Ithaca Journal April 1). From this example
you can see how an on time budget could help out, and would also give more
time for the entire New York Legislature to work out the budgets with the
governor before the deadline. By far, the NYFirst: Budget Reform package
would be a good choice for Assembly lawmakers. This highly publicized set
of reforms is one which would make it so that a late budget never happens
again, and therefore, the governor doesn’t have to use his supposed “short
term emergency spending bills” in the future. Bill #A1258 would solve the
problem of a late budget on behalf of the Assembly though.