The good economic news in Gov. Pataki's proposed budget is a fresh round of $2.5 billion in annual state tax cuts that would provide a strong shot in the arm to business investment throughout New York (assuming the cuts are phased in on schedule after Pataki leaves office).
Fresh from the voters' resounding rejection of Prop One - the so-called "budget reform" that really amounted to a prescription for runaway spending - some legislative leaders are already pledging they will revisit elements of the same dubious package.
Video from a conference hosted by E.J. McMahon
Debate on New York Ballot Proposal One, which would amend the state Constitution to eliminate the existing requirement for state legislators to act on the governor's annual budget Executive Budget before initiating their own appropriation bills. It would provide for an automatic contingency budget, subject to legislative amendment, whenever a new budget is not enacted before the start of a fiscal year.
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.