Unlike residents of 29 other states, New Yorkers don't have the opportunity to end-run their politicians through a statewide voter initiative or referendum process. As a result, we've never been able to mount the kind of up-from-the-grassroots taxpayer revolt that's shaken some other state governments to their foundations.
Ahead of a statewide referendum in November 2005, voters throughout New York State voted down a proposed constitutional amendment that would have reduce the budget-making powers of the governor’s office while strengthening the hand of Albany’s legislative leaders. The implications of such a change were explored by distinguished speakers starting with former Governor Hugh L. Carey, one of the most successful and effective chief executives in New York State’s history.
With little advance notice or fanfare, a constitutional amendment (S.1) that would give the Legislature much more power to shape the state budget was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee today. The Assembly version (A.2) was approved back in February, so the measure is now a big step closer to a statewide voter referendum.
With or without Gov. Pataki's cooperation, state legislators are expected to finish passing a series of budget bills before the new fiscal year begins Thursday.
Once the Legislature adopted a "temporary" personal-income-tax increase in 2003, it was only a matter of time before someone in Albany moved to make the tax hike permanent.
Two decades of abysmal failure is enough to embarrass even the New York State Legislature. And so, earlier this year, Senate and Assembly leaders agreed on a set of measures - a proposed constitutional amendment and an enabling statute - supposedly designed to guarantee an on-time budget every year.
A court-imposed dead line for changing New York state's school fund ing formula will probably come and go in the next two weeks, without any agreed-upon response from Gov. Pataki and legislative leaders in Albany. At that point, it will be up to state Supreme Court Justice Leland DeGrasse — and, by extension, the appellate courts above him — to decide what needs to be done to ensure a "sound basic education" for all New York City students.