Senator Bill Larkin (R-C, Cornwall-on-Hudson) announced that by a vote of 38 to 20, with the twenty opposing votes coming from the Senate Democratic Minority, the Senate has passed a contingency budget plan today that is the cornerstone of its budget reform plan and aims to permanently secure new budgets by the April 1st deadline.
"This plan to implement a contingency budget in case there is no agreement between the Governor, Senate, and Assembly on a state budget by April 1st makes good fiscal and common sense," said Senator Larkin. "It is critical that we provide the agencies and organizations that depend on state funding with the security of knowing they will be able to pay their bills and continue their services when the budget is late."
The contingency budget would maintain spending levels adopted by the Legislature in the 2004-05 budget, with certain limitations and revisions. The contingency budget, which totals $103 billion, would take effect on April 1, 2005 if a new spending plan is not in place. It would not include any new programs, or any changes in taxes that may be sought by the Governor, Senate and Assembly. Larkin said this feature would provide additional motivation on the part of all sides to reach agreement on a new budget by April 1st. "The goal is to pass a budget by April 1 so that we do not even have to resort to the contingency plan," said Senator Larkin. "But after 20 years of late budgets, we need to put this measure in place as a safety."
The contingency budget would consist of all prior year appropriations and reappropriations adopted by the Legislature including the appropriations vetoed by the Governor. Total spending for each item under the Contingency Budget is limited to last year’s spending, with the exceptions of public assistance grants, certain federal funds, debt service and other special contractual obligations, and binding legal obligations required under Federal law of the State Constitution, which would not be subject to spending limitations.