The 2015-16 budget was laboriously completed after much waiting for details to emerge on budget bills late into Tuesday. The debate on the Education, Labor, Family Assistance (ELFA) bill went on for a full six hours, with most Democrats and Republicans debating in opposition to many of the Governor’s education reforms. The Senate finally finished its debate shortly after 11pm, but the Assembly Republicans went into conference at 11:30pm, essentially preventing the Governor from having his on-time budget. They emerged from the conference at 1:00 am and debated the “clean-up” bill and recessed at 3:00am. The Governor refused to acknowledge that the budget was essentially 3 hours into the new fiscal year and claimed an on-time budget.
As you may recall from last week, much was still in the air during the negotiation period leading up to April 1st and we were admittedly anxious about the outcome of the Education Investment Tax Credit in the days leading up to the budget. On Monday afternoon we circled the halls of the Capitol trying to glean whatever information we could about where the issue stood during the negotiations. We later scrambled to send out Action Alerts to our members, reasserting our vehement opposition to this piece of legislation. We are now relieved to report that we were victorious in our efforts and that the ETC bill was not included in the State Budget! We, of course, could not have done this without the help of our members and the state League thanks all of you for your unrelenting advocacy efforts to oppose the ETC bill. With the budget done, focus will center on the Cusick ETC bill. This means our advocacy work around this legislation will continue when the Legislature returns from its April break.
And then, there’s Ethics…
The “so-called” ethics reform measures passed were inserted at the last moment into the Education bill.We believe further reforms are needed in order to truly reverse the climate of corruption in Albany. While the League commends the measure surrounding the forfeiture of pension benefits for all public officials convicted of a felony related to public office. We advocated for stronger restrictions on personal use of campaign funds; more comprehensive reform of outside income disclosure; significant campaign finance reform measures like the closure of the LLC loophole; and additional reform of the per diem system. To read our statement on these reforms, click here.
The outcome of this year’s state budget means we still have A LOT of work ahead of us.