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NYC Senators clamour for transparent budget, hold virtual conference

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The New York City State Senators have clamored for a fair and transparent budget.

They also disclosed a date for a virtual conference to push for the passage of the Budget Equity Act (S8198A/A9100). 

The senators which include Alessandra Biaggi, Gustavo Rivera, James Skoufis, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, and members of community organizations will on Wednesday, July 15th hold the virtual press conference by 4pm. 

The Act would amend the New York State Constitution to allow the Legislature to play an equal role with the Governor in shaping the state budget. 

Last week, nearly 40 organizations from across the state sent a letter to the New York State Legislative leaders in support of the bill.

The New York State Constitution, as written and interpreted by a series of court decisions over decades, has given the Governor vast control of the budget process, essentially deeming the Governor the powerful “constructor” and the Legislature the “critic.” 

Under the New York Constitution, the Governor must deliver budget bills to the Legislature each year. While the Legislature may remove or reduce items in the budget, the Governor has the only say as to what goes into the final budget. 

Anything that the Legislature would like to be included, the Governor must approve. This structure gives the Governor disproportionate control over the process, and creates a strong imbalance between the two branches. 

Maya Moskowitz, the Press Secretary to New York Senator Alessandra Biaggi, in a statement released said the bill would restore balance of power in the budget process as over time.

She added that governors have increasingly used the budget process for policy-making.

She further stated that the bill would require the governor’s budget to clearly identify and state each legislative proposal in the budget.

"The Legislature would be able to reduce, eliminate, modify and add new items. The Governor would have authority to veto additions, increases, or modifications in budget appropriations, but not deletions of legislation, while the Legislature could override vetoes," she stated. 

"The bill would also enable the Legislature to pass appropriation bills that were not within the Governor’s budget. The Constitution as it is currently written and interpreted does not allow the Legislature these powers." Maya concluded. 

For a proposed constitutional amendment to go before the voters, the bill must be passed by two consecutive legislatures.

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