Winner: State Spending Cap Should be First Up

George Winner

January 11, 2010

Albany, N.Y., January 11–State Senator George Winner (R-C-I, Elmira) welcomed today Governor David Paterson’s renewed call for state lawmakers to enact a permanent cap on state spending.

That’s because Winner himself has previously called for and co-sponsored legislation to implement a constitutionally mandated cap on state spending along with additional, comprehensive state spending reforms.

In his second State of the State message to the Legislature last week, Paterson reiterated his support for a spending cap proposal that mirrors, but doesn’t go as far as the plan Winner has sponsored in the past. 

Winner said that he hopes a spending cap will be one of the first actions of the new legislative session, which resumes this week in Albany.

"We’re going to need the governor’s support to break through the inevitable resistance from the legislative leaders of his own party to many of the compromises and changes we need to get New York, especially upstate New York, back on track,” said Winner.  “The number one challenge in the foreseeable future will be to meet our fundamental responsibilities with less spending and smarter spending. I’d also like to see us confront this challenge with an emphasis on public accountability."

Winner co-sponsored legislation approved by the Senate in 2008 – the last time that Republicans controlled that chamber -- to amend the New York State Constitution (S. 7134, approved by the Senate on March 12, 2008) and limit year-to-year state spending increases to 120 percent of the consumer price index (CPI) or 4 percent, whichever is less.  In any given year, 50 percent of state tax revenues exceeding the cap would be placed in a reserve fund, with the other half being returned to taxpayers in the form of direct rebates.

Winner said that if a similar cap had been in place over the past five years, state taxpayers would have saved $13.1 billion.

To build on its spending cap proposal, Winner and his colleagues have also proposed an “Accountability in Government Spending” strategy calling for:

-- the first time ever, public expenditure reports from all state agencies and the judiciary;

-- requiring all state agencies to develop long-term strategic plans and follow performance budgeting principles; and

-- creating a new Web site ( -- patterned after sites operated by the federal Office of Management and Budget ( and the commonwealth of Virginia (Virginia Performs) -- that would enable the public to review the performance of government programs.