Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) announced today that a comprehensive budget reform plan passed the Senate and would ensure the passage of on-time budget and help improve the overall fiscal health of the state.
According to Senator Fuschillo, the package would change the start of the state's fiscal year from April 1 to May 1 and activate the governor's proposed executive budget if a new budget is not enacted by the deadline.
"After 18 years of late budgets, it has become obvious that the budget process is broken and requires real reform," said Senator Fuschillo. "The Senate has long been leading the charge for serious budget reform and passing legislation to make late budgets in New York State a thing of the past."
Senator Fuschillo said the key components of the Senate's plan include: moving the start of the fiscal year to May 1; requiring joint revenue forecasts with a binding forecast determined by the state comptroller if no agreement on revenues is reached; and providing for a 'default budget' to ensure an on-time budget. A constitutional amendment calls for the proposed executive budget to take effect as the 'default budget' if a new budget agreement is not enacted. Most New York counties already use similar provisions to ensure a timely budget.
The eight-point budget reform plan would include:
* Budget Requests (Oct. 15) - requires agencies to submit individual preliminary budget requests to the Legislature at the same time they are forwarded to the governor, providing additional time for study and review;
* "Fast Start," Timely Finish (Nov. 15) - requires commencement of three-way discussions between the Senate, Assembly and governor to project expenditures for Medicaid, public assistance, school aid and other costs, as well as begin the process of estimating tax and other revenues for the coming year;
* Early Budget Submission (Jan. 15) - requires earlier submission of the executive budget and shortens the amendment period from 30 days to 15 days to allow additional time for legislative review;
* Consensus Revenue Forecasts (Mar. 1) - requires three-way agreement by March 1 on revenues for the new fiscal year, clearing a major stumbling block for an on-time budget. If the Legislature and executive fail to agree on a forecast, the independently elected comptroller is charged with providing a binding forecast of tax, lottery and fee revenues within five days;
* Budget Conference Committees (Mar. 16) - requires General Conference Committee to establish spending parameters for individual service areas. Individual conference committees would negotiate budgets for assigned agencies;
* New Start of Fiscal Year (May 1) - the start of the fiscal year would move from April 1 to May 1 to provide adequate time for analysis and discussion of budget proposals. New York currently has the shortest timeframe for legislative budget deliberations of the largest states in the nation;
* Default Budget (May 1) - A constitutional amendment requires that in the absence of an agreed-to budget, the governor's plan would be put into effect. The executive would be granted special powers to impose spending reductions to the default budget in all non-mandated general fund-spending areas.
* Structural Reforms/Reserve Fund - requires three-year projection of the financial impact of any changes to the executive budget by individual conference committees. Additionally, a reserve fund equal to 5 percent of all state funds would be created to cushion unexpected economic downturns and natural disasters. Such a fund, if it were in place today, would require reserves of approximately $2.8 billion, or four times the current requirement.
Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) announced today that the New York State Senate passed legislation to provide free college education for families of victims of the World Trade Center attack.
According to Senator Fuschillo the "World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship" legislation (S.7310) would guarantee the opportunity of a college education to all of the families of those killed or seriously and permanently disabled in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The legislation would pay for the cost of attendance at all SUNY and CUNY schools, or an equivalent amount of $12,000 in aid for students who attend private colleges in New York State.
As the state works to recover from this tragic event in our nation's history, we must never forget the victims and their families. Senator Fuschillo said, "By providing free college scholarships, we are helping to ensure stability in their lives and an opportunity to achieve their higher education goals."
Senator Fuschillo said that the initiative would be available to the children and surviving spouses of the innocent victims who perished or were seriously and permanently disabled in the horrific World Trade Center terrorist attack, whether they live in New York State or not. The benefit would be extended to students from families in New York State who were attending out-of-state schools at the time of the attack. Funding would also be available to the children and spouses of any innocent victim who perished in the other Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
The current average cost of attendance at a SUNY four-year college is nearly $12,000 per year, including tuition, room and board, fees, books, supplies and transportation. At today's costs, the new scholarship would be valued at more than $47,500 for four years' of study. The bill would cover the cost of items such as tuition, room and board, fees, books, supplies and transportation. The benefit would be available for four years of full-time undergraduate study (or five years for certain five-year baccalaureate programs).
According to Senator Fuschillo the World Trade Center scholarship legislation would also expand an existing memorial scholarship program by guaranteeing a college education for the families of Emergency Medical Services workers who are killed on the job, in addition to families of fallen police and firefighters. The legislation also expands the benefits available to police and firefighters, as well as EMS workers, who are seriously and permanently disabled in the ongoing World Trade Center rescue and recovery efforts.
"It is important for New York to show tangible support for the families of citizens who lost their lives or were disabled as a result of the tragic events of Sept. 11," said Senator Fuschillo. "The families of these victims should be able to pursue and complete their higher education as a legacy to those whose lives ended too soon."
The legislation was sent to the Assembly.