Eliminating Government Waste Critical to State’s Economic Future

By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent)

Bringing New York out of multi-billion shortfalls has required many difficult choices. The fact of the matter is that we did not get here overnight. The financial difficulties this state faces were decades in the making and there is a great deal of work that still needs to be done to control spending and reduce the tax burden so that our economy can grow.

As a member of the bipartisan Task Force on Government Efficiency, I have been part of the close examination of several state agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Department of Correctional Services. What we’ve identified is hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending that must be addressed.

One avenue toward making the changes we need is performance based budgeting. This is a program that has been used in cities and states to better address agency performance to cut wasteful spending. This will enable the state to not only assess where the waste is, but target it and make cuts that save the taxpayers’ money. In this year’s budget, general fund spending was cut, but performance based budgeting would enable even more targeted cuts in departments such as the DOT and DOCS without impacting the services we all need in place.

Consolidation of administrations for agencies and authorities with similar missions is another area we need to look for real savings. In 2008, I began advocating for a series of consolidations of agencies and authorities, including DOT and the Thruway Authority, where joining state departments with similar missions would result in savings. This continues to be a priority.

Additionally, I’m proud to have rejected efforts to borrow money to close our budget gap and will continue to fight these efforts. You cannot borrow your way to prosperity. No one ever got out of debt by borrowing more money. Debt already on the books is one of the reasons we were not able to cut another billion or so out of the budget. The decisions made over the past 30 years or so continue to cost us more as a state and we cannot continue to act this way and expect different results.

With reduced spending comes the opportunity to reduce the tax burden. In Central and Northern New York, one of our greatest concerns is the high property taxes we pay. I, along with many groups concerned about Upstate New York, have been pushing for a property tax cap. This cap, along with the elimination of unfunded mandates, and a circuit breaker that limits tax bills to a percentage of a homeowners’ income, will cut our taxes.

To accomplish this real change I am working across party lines to show the widespread support from all of us. In the Senate, support for budget reform is growing and these tax relief measures have already passed, but still await action in the Assembly. It is critically important to all of us, that we continue working to right this state, cultivate a future for our children, and reduce our high tax burden.