DIVISION OF THE BUDGET
ELIOT SPITZER, GOVERNOR
December 7, 2007 CONTACT: Jeffrey Gordon
BUDGET ISSUE HEARINGS SCHEDULED IN ALBANY
Public Testimony on the State’s Priorities Part of New, More Open, Budget Process
As part of his initiative to make the state budget process more transparent, Governor Spitzer today announced that his administration will be holding four budget issue hearings on the 2008-2009 budget in Albany.
The State Division of the Budget will hold four hearings on Thursday, December 13 and on Tuesday, December 18, in Meeting Room One of Albany’s Empire State Plaza. Each two-hour session will focus on the specific policy areas listed below:
- December 13, 10 a.m., Education
- December 13, 1 p.m., Property Taxes
- December 18, 10 a.m., Economic Development
- December 18, 1 p.m., Housing
“These hearings are an essential component of the new, more open, budget process begun by my administration,” Governor Spitzer said. “As we continue to make the tough choices necessary to maintain fiscal discipline in this difficult economic climate, public input about our priorities as a state will be vitally important.”
During the hearings beginning next week, groups that focus on statewide issues have been invited to present testimony to senior members of the Division of the Budget and the Governor’s Deputy Secretaries on their respective areas of expertise. A live webcast of the proceedings and written testimony submitted by the participants will be available at www.budget.state.ny.us. Written comments by members of the public on these issues will also be accepted at BudgetHearing@budget.state.ny.us.
This is the third type of event the Division of the Budget has hosted as part of a series of public hearings, representing the most active and transparent outreach that has been conducted in advance of the release of the Governor’s Executive Budget.
Last month, 245 citizens provided testimony on issues of their choosing at six town hall meetings hosted by the Budget Division across the state, which were attended by a total of over 500 people. The policy matters they spoke about included education, health care, family farms, the economy, library funding, aid to people with disabilities, local governments, support for the arts, tax relief, and many others. In October, the Division of the Budget held public hearings at which agency commissioners presented testimony on their budget and capital priorities for the coming year.
Budget Director Paul Francis said that New York currently faces a projected $4.3 billion budget gap for 2008-2009, which was caused in great part by recent turbulence experienced in the financial services sector. He said New York receives as much as 20 percent of its revenues from Wall Street, and that the subprime mortgage crisis and other negative developments mean that revenues will be much lower than originally forecast.
Francis said: “For many years, higher than expected revenues from Wall Street have allowed the state to avoid some difficult fiscal choices. Because of the developments we’ve seen in the subprime lending market, it is clear that this year will be very different. These hearings have been extremely helpful by allowing Governor Spitzer to hear from the public about their core priorities in a year that he will be forced to make very tough choices about state spending.”
Governor Spitzer will close any potential gap when he delivers his budget proposal to the Legislature on January 22, incorporating input from the public, elected officials, and other stakeholders.
These hearings are part of the more open budget process instituted by Governor Spitzer in preparation for next year’s budget. In addition to the series of hearings, the Division of the Budget, the Legislature, and the Comptroller also began a “quick start” budget process last month, evaluating their revenue and expenditure forecasts for the coming year. Part of a reform agreement passed last January, this new policy resulted in a joint report about the fiscal situation facing the state on November 15. This was four months earlier than in past years, allowing greater time for input from the public and elected officials.