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June 24, 2004

Legislative session ends with no budget, no action on key issues

The 2004 legislative session that ended this week with no agreement on a state budget, which is supposed to be in place by April 1 under the state Constitution, and no major action on any of the top priorities of New York's business community.

The Senate concluded business Tuesday, a day legislative leaders set for the close of the session many months ago. The Assembly wrapped up on Wednesday.

As the session wound down, The Council tracked debate on several key issues:

"It's little wonder New Yorkers show so little confidence in New York's lawmakers and legislative process," said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. He cited a recent poll from Quinnipiac University showing that two-thirds of New Yorkers say state government is broken and more than half of New Yorkers saying there should be a constitutional convention to reform state government.

"New Yorkers, by a margin of 51 percent to 29 percent, disapprove of the way the Legislature is handling its job," Walsh added. "Now the question is: What on earth were the other 29 percent thinking?"

He cited as an example the Assembly's decision to approve the bill that would turn the state's economic development programs into a tool to punish businesses that choose to locate even a single job beyond the state's borders.

"It's inexplicable that the Assembly would act on a bill this dumb when no action was taken on the many significant issues that matter to business," Walsh said. "No state budget. No decision on school funding. No Medicaid reforms to lower our property taxes. No steps to make health insurance more affordable. No moves to make our electric system more reliable and competitive. Nothing to reduce our liability costs. Nothing on anything."