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Originally Published: March 23, 2012

Calls on Governor and Legislative Leaders to Address State Government Efficiency Concerns through Separate Legislation Modeled on NYC Budget Process

Citizens Union Also Urges Three-Day Aging for Final Budget Bills

With a state budget agreement still unresolved but on tap for next week, Citizens Union today announced its opposition to language contained in the Governor’s proposed state appropriations legislation, A.9050/S.6250, which would give the governor the authority to transfer funds between agencies or among programs within a particular agency without legislative approval.   In doing so, it provided some specific recommendations for the Governor and the Legislature in addressing this proposal.

“Citizens Union supports the governor’s efforts to create a more efficient and effective state government that better serves New Yorkers,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director.  “We oppose, however, the language as currently drafted and urge its removal from the budget legislation, replacing it with an alternative, collaborative process contained in separate legislation.  We believe that it would short-circuit an important deliberative process, not allow sufficient transparency in important spending decisions, and not strike an appropriate balance of power in state government.”

Rachael Fauss, Policy and Research Manager, said, “With the state budget needing approval in the next week, Citizens Union also urges the Governor to not use messages of necessity in consideration of this year’s budget and allow all bills to age the requisite three days so that the public and rank-and-file legislators have the full opportunity to review the budget’s contents.”

Citizens Union urges the State Legislature and Governor to examine alternative means of implementing the goals of creating greater efficiencies and consolidations in state government, as recommended by the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission, and recommends looking at the following examples from the New York City Budgeting process as models for separate legislation.

  1. The governor could submit a reorganization plan to the legislature, similar to what is required for the mayor under the New York City Charter (Chapter 1, Section 11); or
  2. The governor could be required to seek legislative approval for interchanges, transfers or suballocations over a certain threshold.  For example, the New York City Charter (Chapter 6, Section 107) requires such budget modifications to be approved by the City Council if they are greater than $50,000 or 5 percent of an agency’s budget.

Citizens Union also has concerns regarding the proposed budget language as it relates to the transfer of funds to public authorities which are “off-budget”, and urges that legislative approval should be required for all transfers or suballocations to public authorities.  Noting that some public authorities have failed to submit required annual budget reports to the Authorities Budget Office, Citizens Union also urges compliance with the mandated reporting requirements.

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