COLUMN: From the Senator - The New York State budget process

— As Chairman of the New York State Senate Finance Committee, I am currently in the midst of the budget process. Under the Budget Reform Act of 2007, the State Legislature is required to follow a strict schedule, in order to enact a budget by April 1, 2013. The process includes Joint Senate/Assembly public budget hearings, which allow legislators to ask questions of agency heads and for members of the public to testify on various budget issues such as education, Medicaid and economic development. Once these hearings wrap up at the end of February, the Senate and the Assembly prepare and pass their own one-house budgets taking into account the Governor’s proposed budget and public comment.

Next, Senate/Assembly joint budget conference committee hearings are held so that legislators can debate the Senate and the Assembly spending and revenue priorities in public. Legislators can either accept or propose amendments to the executive budget. The Governor can then either sign or veto all, or some of the Legislature’s amended budget bills. As provided by the Constitution, the Legislature may override the Governor’s veto by a vote of two-thirds of the members of each house. However, it is more likely that the differences between the Governor and the Legislature will be resolved through negotiations.

For the last two years, while I have been Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, we strictly adhered to the Budget Reform Act and passed on-time State budgets that cut spending without raising taxes. I am confident that we can once again enact a responsible, on-time budget this year.

Sen. John A. DeFrancisco represents the 50th Senate District of New York State. To contact the Senator, call 428-7632.

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