If we truly want to clean up Albany and reform its tired practices, then we must change the legislative process. This is, I believe, the most pressing matter for Albany to address for one simple reason: a better process means smarter, more responsive government.

To help Governor Cuomo change how business is done, the 54 sitting senators who signed the NY Uprising pledge last fall must keep our promise and pass meaningful budget reform.

At 1:00 PM today, the Senate Finance Committee – the body through which bills must pass before coming to a full floor vote – will take up critical budget reforms originally introduced last year. Of the committee’s 34 members, 29 signed the NY Uprising pledge.  And now, these members will have the opportunity to follow through on their commitment to pass common sense legislation which will:

  • Task a 15-member Empire State Performance Commission with designing a performance based management and budgeting blueprint that will streamline government and end waste and fraud that has plagued programs and services (S413).
  • Remove fiscal manipulations that have allowed for the distortion of State finances, by requiring both the Executive Budget proposal and Enacted Budget to be balanced according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). This will end the practice of balancing the budget on a “Cash Basis,” which blurs the State’s actual fiscal reality by only looking at what money the State has “in pocket” at a given time, while ignoring the money it owes (which is often a large sum). GAAP Budgeting will “fundamentally realign recurring spending with recurring revenue to restore the State’s fiscal health” as recommended in a recent report by the state Comptroller (S414).
  • End New York’s status as the only state with a budget date prior to the federal tax collection date. Currently, the State balances the budget based on assumptions, rather than on hard numbers. Shifting the start of the fiscal year to June 1 will allow for proper fiscal planning (S418).
You can watch the debate and committee vote online or receive regular updates on Twitter and Facebook.
Keeping Our Promise:
Earlier this session, Senate Democrats fought to bring Governor Cuomo’s independent redistricting legislation to a vote. And two weeks ago, Senators Daniel Squadron, Gustavo Rivera and I submitted petitions to force action on ethics reform, in particular, legislation which would strip convicted politicians of their pensions and increase oversight of the Legislature. To date, the Republican Majority has systematically broken their pledge.

However, ever the optimist, I am hopeful my colleagues from both sides of the aisle will keep their promise, starting today, and enact meaningful budget reform.