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NYBC: just say 'No' to budget reform plan.

The New York Building Congress this week reiterated its call for a 'No' vote on a plan to amend the state constitution and transfer fiscal responsibility from the governor to the legislature.

"The New York Building Congress opposes the proposed budget reform amendment, Proposition l, to the state constitution and we encourage voters to defeat it on election day, Tuesday, November 8," the congress stated.

"Intended to give the New York State Legislature incentives to pass a timely budget, the proposed amendment will do exactly the opposite. It will reward the legislature for delaying the governor's budget."

The statement claimed the amendment was an attempt by the legislature to usurp powers from the Governor and an effort by "an already dysfunctional legislature to secure more power."

If passed, the bill would give New York State Legislature the power to delay the governor's budget. It provides that, in the event the Legislature does not act on the Governor's budget by the next fiscal year, the budget essentially expires in its entirety.

A contingency budget automatically takes effect and the Legislature becomes empowered to draft its own budget. The proposal would also do away with the current provision that withholds legislators' paychecks until they pass a budget.

Currently, the Governor is charged with setting state spending priorities. Even under this system, the legislature has been able to add more than $12 billion in spending to the budget.

Passage of the amendment would reward legislators who stall the executive budget by granting them the authority to draft a new budget that caters to their local projects and priorities.

In a state that already spends more revenue then it brings in, opponents say debt would almost surely soar if the legislature succeeds in hijacking the budget process.

Speaking at the NYBC luncheon last week, Governor George Pataki warned, "If this ballot is approved, New York will be plunged head first into budget deficit."

The amendment is scheduled to go on the same ballot as the 2005 Transportation Bond Act which the NYBC--and Pataki--support. It will provide $2.9 billion for such projects as the Second Avenue subway and JFK commuter rail link.
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Author:Misonzhnik, Elaine
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 2, 2005
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