Albany, N.Y.–Earlier this year, in the wake of a 2009-2010 state budget adoption process that continues to draw criticism from government reform advocates for its unprecedented secrecy and lack of public scrutiny, State Senator George Winner (R-C-I, Elmira) offered a legislative amendment to require that every state budget adoption include the use of joint, bipartisan conference committees.
Under the conference committee process, various segments of the state budget are debated by committees made up of individual senators and assembly members, on a bipartisan basis, who meet in public to settle differences and negotiate compromises.
“There was a glaring lack of public scrutiny and public understanding during this year’s state budget negotiations, and it produced a bad budget,” said Winner. “The conference committee process ensures that the public gets a glimpse of who’s making the decisions and why. It makes individual legislators stand up and defend their positions. It’s good government, and it should be part of each and every budget adoption.”