Latham, NY – State Senator Daphne Jordan (R,C,I,Ref-Halfmoon), Assembly Republican Leader Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I,Ref-Pulaski), and New York State Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar today called for substantial reforms to the New York State budget process which has been significantly perverted under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s three terms in the Executive Chamber.
The Senator, Assembly Leader, and Chairman called for immediate consideration of two powerful legislative reform measures that would: a. protect taxpayers against ever-escalating tax increases; b. safeguard the traditional budget process, and c. guarantee the proper parsing of legislative items that don’t belong in budget bills. Governor Cuomo has made folding legislative initiatives into budget bills to avoid debate and maximize leverage over state legislators, who must vote up or down on massive budget bills, his signature governing tactic, however inappropriate.
“Once again, Governor Cuomo is misusing the budget process to push through radical legislation that might never see the light of day through regular legislative processes,” Senator Jordan (R,C,I,Ref-Halfmoon) said. “The Executive Chamber’s ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ position smacks of an authoritarianism that has no place in a constitutional democracy. These bills would restore spending and budgetary sanity to a state in desperate need of both.”
“New York’s budget process has been hijacked to serve as a vehicle for policy initiatives that rightfully should be debated during regular legislative sessions,” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C-Pulaski) said. “These initiatives can have a significant impact on the lives of New Yorkers and they must be vetted by the State Legislature, as they were intended to be, one bill at a time.”
“There are three branches of State government — not two — but you wouldn’t know it the way Governor Cuomo has been running roughshod over the State Legislature,” Chairman Kassar said. “His practice of ramming through radical initiatives by attaching them to budget bills is dangerous and constitutionally inappropriate. New Yorkers have a right to be heard on matters of great importance; it’s why they elect the Senators and Assemblymembers who must, now, reassert their authority.”
The bills advocated for were:
(A.6018-Barclay): An Act to set parameters for the content of budget bills, ensuring that budget negotiations are focused on financial, not policy issues; and
(A.3538-Palmesano): Creating a constitutional amendment requiring 2/3 vote for any bill that raises taxes or creates a new tax.
Senator Jordan announced at the news conference that she would be sponsoring companion bills to these measures in the State Senate in the coming weeks. Senator Jordan has already introduced a bill (S.3373) that would amend the State Constitution to restrict the ability of the executive to make laws via the budget.
Recent examples of Governor Cuomo improperly ramming through policy initiatives using the state budget process include the introduction of Cashless Bail in New York — a measure he now admits is problematic — granting undocumented immigrants taxpayer paid college funds; sports betting in casinos, and the creation of a commission seeking to finance state elections with public dollars and eliminate Democratic Party political competition (the Conservative Party has challenged the constitutionality of the latter in New York State Supreme Court, and is currently awaiting the court’s decision).
This year, the Governor is seeking, among other things, to legalize paid gestational surrogacy — an illegal practice in many European countries that was expressly outlawed by Governor Mario M. Cuomo — and to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. By submitting these and other legislative items in the budget process, the Senator, Assembly Leader, and Conservative Chairman argued, the Governor is attempting an end-around the State Legislature, stifling debate on the measures that common sense demands.
Today’s news conference was held at the 53rd Annual State Conservative Party “CPPAC” gathering in Latham, NY.