Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie) today announced that the Senate has passed two budget reform bills that would end late budgets by putting a contingency budget in place if a new budget is not enacted by April 1.
Budget reform bill (S.2), which passed both houses last year would:
-Provide more time for budget negotiations by requiring an earlier submission of the Executive Budget;
-Change the start of the fiscal year (SFY) from April 1st to May 1st, beginning in SFY 2006-07
-Provide for greater detail and more disclosure in the budget
-Put a contingency budget into effect automatically if a new budget is not adopted by the May 1 deadline; The contingency budget would continue the previous fiscal year budget forward until it is changed by the Legislature; and
-Require a two year appropriation for state school aid
Budget reform bill (S.3) first passed by the Senate last month would take effect immediately to change the budget process for this year. As in the case of S.2 it includes the May 1st fiscal year date and a two-year school aid appropriation. The differences are as follows:
-It would take effect in time to reform the budget process in 2005, instead of 2006;
-The Governor would submit a contingency budget by February 1st which would have to be adopted by the Legislature prior to the beginning of the fiscal year. Legislation related to the preceding fiscal year’s budget would remain in effect during the contingency period;
-It would create the Independent Financial Review Board to determine whether receipts would be sufficient to meet spending requirements. If the Board determines that receipts would be insufficient to meet spending requirements authorized by the Contingency Budget, uniform reductions would automatically be made to all spending items, except those which are exempt from spending limits, no later than 15 days after the beginning of the fiscal year. The five member board would be comprised of one appointment each from the Senate Majority and Minority leaders, the Assembly Speaker and Minority leader and Chairman to be nominated by the Governor and approved by both houses.
-Also, the bill would end the contingency budget period upon passage of a single multiple appropriation bill amending the Contingency Budget, submitted by the Governor within 15 days of the start of the contingency period. The Governor’s submission may propose reductions to appropriations in the Contingency Budget and propose additions to the Contingency Budget which reflect policy initiatives.
"Passing this legislation brings us one step closer to making budget reform a reality in the 2005 legislative session," said Senator Saland. "We have seen too many late budgets. Now is the time for change."
"Budget reform will require a genuine bipartisan effort," said Senator Saland. "We must be willing to negotiate in good faith. Through conference committees we were able to come close last session. Close is not enough. I am hopeful that we will come together again and resolve this once and for all in the spirit of bipartisanship."
Senator Saland is a member of the Joint Legislative Conference Committee on Budget Reform.