The Budget Process and Other Blockages
February 27th, 2006

As Governor George Pataki recuperated in the hospital after the removal of his appendix this past Presidents Day, he might have been dreaming about his own presidential aspirations. But others were focusing on lower and more immediate concerns.

A month after the governor presented his twelfth and final executive budget, promising “Fiscal Integrity, Economic Freedom, a Secure Future for New Yorkers” — and the day before the governor’s appendectomy — New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi released a report criticizing the executive budget, for, among other things, “temporarily plugging” structural gaps. The comptroller and fellow critics are wary of the plan’s increases in spending and decreases in taxes. The governor’s potential shortsighted use of the estimated two billion dollar surplus and an over-reliance on debt, his critics say, undermine Pataki’s proposed integrity, freedom and security.

Perhaps the comptroller’s 237 page document irritated the governor’s appendix, an organ that would soon share the spotlight with his intestine, which was being blocked — an event on which columnists and reporters lavished especially dutiful (one might say gleeful) attention. Indeed, judging by a Google News search, Pataki’s problems with his organs had well over ten times the news coverage of the state budget.

Just months after the defeat of ballot proposal 1, which would have altered the budget process and shifted much budgetary authority from the governor to the legislature, a reform buzz continues, but Albany has yet to produce. Jo Brill of the Citizens Budget Commission points out that the comptroller’s report highlights that Pataki has “proposed numerous budget changes in the guise of [innocuous-looking] budget language.” Though the courts in Pataki v. Assembly and Silver v. Pataki might allow for some such language from the executive, the comptroller urged the governor to take caution with these new standards. Whatever the proposals, this push and pull between the executive and legislature will likely delay another budget this spring.

The calls for reform continue but are blocked by organ and Albany dysfunction. Here’s to a speedy recovery for both Pataki and the budget process.

By on February 27, 2006, 6:01 am
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