Friday, March 30, 2007

Sausage-Making May Be an Unsavory Spectator Sport, but Voters Deserve a Chance to See It

The AP reports that Governor Spitzer and legislative leaders, “after six hours of closed-door meetings,” have emerged with a deal that they hope will result in the third on-time budget in a row.

So what’s wrong with an on-time budget?

Governor Spitzer is right that we should expect our leaders to produce a budget by the April 1st deadline, but we don’t agree that transparency of the budget process should be sacrificed to timeliness. Our leaders should also show that they are committed to opening the process to public scrutiny. After all, while important, the novelty of on-time budgets has worn off to some degree--before reform fever hit Albany in full force this year, Governor Pataki and legislative leaders had managed to usher two budgets in a row to the finish line on time.

Unfortunately, this budget cycle seems to have been more about securing the outcome by the deadline, no matter how rushed, secretive, and possibly unrepresentative of the people’s will, than it was about employing an open, accountable process.

We were encouraged, though, to see that a few rank-and-file members have tried, however unsuccessfully, to assert themselves as representatives of their constituents and not rubber stamps for party leadership. The Journal News notes that Assembly members Sandy Galef and Greg Ball have been making noise during the budget process. Galef tried to push one of the budget conference committees, normally “window dressing,” to take real action. Ball has repeatedly denounced the lack of member and public participation in the budget process, dubbing himself “Albany’s loudest advocate for reform.”

We applaud Assembly members Galef, Ball, and other rank-and-file lawmakers for attempting meaningful participation in the process. To everyone else, we say, “New Yorkers have strong stomachs. Show us the sausage.”

1 comment:

Rocky said...

Great post! The graphic makes all the difference, and your continued demand for transparency is appreciated!