LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 15

by AssemblyMinority Leader
Imagine you are in school, a
teacher hands the class a 1,200-
pagebookandsaysyouhave four
hours to read it and report on it.
Welcome to theNewYork State
budget process. Last week the
state finalized its $154.9 billion
spending plan, and did so using
themost secretive, dysfunctional
approach I’ve seen inmore than
15 years in theLegislature.
Blair Horner of NYPIRG
called it “the darkest it’s ever
been that we’ve ever seen.” Cit-
izen Union’s Dick Dadey said,
“We have a government that
operates in the shadows and
makes big decisions on behalf
of the public without any pub-
lic scrutiny.” Comptroller Tom
DiNapoli noted that this year’s
budget “came together late in
the process and outside the pub-
lic’s view.” Democratic Senator
Liz Krueger said, “I studied
government budgets in school
-- thiswasn’t how itworked.You
actually got to see actual budget
legislation to vote on that was a
whole package. We’re not doing
that and I don’t think any of us
can justify it.”
It took an all-nighter to get a
timely budget, but it took public
input totally out of the equation.
WhenAlbany spends billions of
taxpayers’hard-earnedmoney, it
has an obligation to inform tax-
payers of exactlywhat it’s doing.
Providing spending informa-
tion to the public didn’t happen,
and providing details to legis-
lators was only slightly more
transparent. Members of the
Legislaturevotedonbudget bills
without having any financial
details attached. The release of
information was so bad that at
onepoint theAssemblyMajority
argued that specifics could be
found–not inprintedbills –but
in newspapers articles.
Even with a budget in place,
legislators still had toplaycatch-
upaboutwhatwas in, andout, of
thefinal agreement.
credit was supported by both
the Assembly and Senate. In
a Veterans’ Day press release,
the governor promised it would
appear in the final budget. To
thesurpriseofmany, itwascom-
pletely omitted.
The catastrophic minimum
wage increasewill go to$12.50/
hour for upstate by 2020.While
someview this as less damaging
than the $15/hour wage down-
state, the budget leaves the door
open to further upstate increases
at the sole discretion of the state
BudgetDirector to$15/hour, but
provides no time frame.
$400million in funding for lo-
cal roadswas approved, butwith
no information as to where the
money came fromorwhowould
receive it. The budget passed on
April 1. The distribution details
were emailed onApril 7.
by all sides on the need for re-
form, no ethics legislation was
ABrokenProcess andBrokenPromises
passed. The status quo has not
changed, and in regards to the
budget process, things appear to
have gottenworse.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bhar-
ara single-handedly turned the
Legislature on its head when he
convicted formerSenateMajority
Leader Dean Skelos and former
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Sil-
ver on corruption crimes. His
thoughtson theprocessbywhich
be more on-target. Mr. Bharara
once commented:
“When did 20 million New
Yorkers agree to be ruled like
a triumvirate in Roman times?
It seems to me, if you’re one of
the three men in the room, and
youhaveall thepower, youdon’t
have to.Youdon’t toleratedebate,
because you don’t have to. You
don’t favor change or foster re-
form, because you don’t have to,
andbecause thestatusquoalways
benefits you.”
conducted inadeliberatemanner
to leave the public in the dark.
an opportunity to review and
respond to how their moneywas
spent.But in typicalAlbany fash-
ion, the governor and legislative
leaders denied them that right.
What do you think? I want
to hear from you. Sendme your
feedback, suggestions and ideas
regarding this or any other issue
facingNewYork State. You can
always contactmy district office
at (315) 781-2030, email me at
me by searching for Assembly-
man Brian Kolb on Facebook,
and followme onTwitter.
1ChurchSt., LeRoy, NY14482
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