Bradley There from the Beginning on Reform

We all know our state government is in desperate need of reform, I knew it two years ago when I ran for Assembly and I've spent the last two years fighting for change. Unfortunately, all too often, politics gets in the way of common sense and special interests get in the way of what's right. In Albany, I have rejected the standard Albany way of doing things and fought for change. I have reached across party lines, told truth to power, enacted reform and gotten results. But while progress has been made, much more needs to be done.

For example, I strongly support Assemblyman Scott Stringer's resolutions that would amend the Assembly rules by increasing participation by members and increasing transparency of the legislative process. This proposal is supported by the Brennan Center for Justice and a coalition of business and advocacy groups from across the state.

And recently, I supported several Assembly reform initiatives that would change the way Albany does business, including:

Pension reform, which would lower local property taxes and protect the pensions of retirees (A.11758);
Public authority reform, to rein in the dozens of out-of-control state agencies (A.9010);
Election reform, to make voting easier and more efficient (numerous bills, 2004);
Lobbying reform, to limit the influence of well-financed special interests (A.9062-A, A.6322-B).

It's no secret that the state budget process in Albany has been dysfunctional and chaotic. Last year, the governor presented a budget that cut millions from Westchester schools and hospitals. That's why I joined with Westchester Senators Vinnie Leibell and Nick Spano to reject these cuts and pass a bipartisan 2003 budget that restored over $35 million for Westchester schools, $41 million for Westchester hospitals and nursing homes and prevented the largest property tax increase in state history.

While we need a budget that is fair to Westchester, we also need an on-time budget as well. Unfortunately, the way New York crafts a budget today is both outdated and inefficient. That's why this year I sponsored a bill, passed by both the Assembly and Senate, which will bring much needed reform to the budget process (A.11702). The bipartisan budget reform plan includes the creation of a non-partisan independent budget office. It moves the start of New York's fiscal year from April 1 to May 1 to allow for better revenue and spending projections and institutes provisions to instill greater accountability in the process. If no budget is in place by May 1, the plan provides for a contingency budget equivalent to that of the preceding year. The budget reform agreement also requires a two-year appropriation of state school aid, providing schools with the forecasting information they need when preparing for their yearly budget votes and helping them avoid property tax increases.

These reforms will lead to fair on-time budgets. As of today, the State Senate has had over 100 days to send this important bill to the governor for his signature. That is too long, when New York has been without reform for years. The time for reform is now. I urge the Senate to move the bill to the governor and for the governor to sign it as quickly as possible.