2005-03-23 / Editorials

The Budget Could Be On Time—If…

By Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette


I am optimistic there can be a state budget completed by the April 1 deadline. I also believe that an on-time budget is contingent upon the governor’s willingness to negotiate with the legislature in good faith.

To begin the process of adopting an on-time budget, the state legislature began the budget conference committee process. Legislators from both the Assembly and senate are appointed by the leaders of their respective houses to serve on a budget conference committee to help resolve their differences in a certain area of the budget. For example, I am serving on the higher education conference committee. I, along with other members of the committee, am trying to provide the maximum support for both SUNY and CUNY capital and operating aid. At this point we have made progress and I hope each side, while making some concessions, will have a plan in effect shortly.

In past years, legislators have always had countless meetings with each other and with leadership on how certain issues affect the people we represent and how we feel they will affect New York state as a whole. The budget conference committee process is bringing this out in the open.

It is important to note that the Assembly Majority has outlined in our budget resolution what our priorities are. This resolution begins the process of finding real solutions to Medicaid and health care in New York state, while rejecting the governor’s annual list of cuts. Our resolution also re-establishes our commitment to education reform with our sweeping foundation formula that sets the basis for a CFE settlement.

I have also stepped into other committee hearings and find myself encouraged by other committee members’ acceptance that there are limits in what the state can afford, but there is also optimism that we can provide the support necessary for the people of New York.

As of this writing, the governor has been available and made some changes to his budget plan. So there is hope we can have an on-time budget, even though there are some issues we will continue to negotiate until the end of session.

Sincerely,

Ivan C. Lafayette

Assemblymember

Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore

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