Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — Wednesday, November 9, 2005


ALBANY—Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh thanked Governor Hugh Carey for his leadership of the coalition The Business Council assembled to defeat the Runaway Spending Amendment, which voters emphatically rejected yesterday, with 63 percent of voters saying "no" to the legislative power grab.

“Now, we have the opportunity for real improvement in the way Albany conducts its business,” Walsh told Governor Carey in a November 9 letter. “As you have said repeatedly, government in New York State must get back in the habit of living within its means.”

Stop the Amendment, the coalition assembled by The Business Council, conducted a variety of outreach activities designed to share with New York’s voters and taxpayers broad concerns about the amendment and how it would change New York’s budgeting process.

"The Business Council did a great job of igniting the grassroots," said coalition member E.J. McMahon, director of the Manhattan Institute's Empire Center. "No organization did more in getting the word out to voters that this proposal was nothing more than a legislative power grab."

"I commend everyone who worked to defeat this flawed proposal," said Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. "My hope now is that we can use the momentum from this victory to press for true reform that will help put New York's fiscal house in order."

Coalition members included:

  • Gerald Benjamin, dean of liberal arts
    and sciences at the State University
    of New York at New Paltz.
  • Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce.
  • R. Wayne Diesel, a state budget director
    under former Governor Mario M. Cuomo.
  • Orange County Chamber of Commerce.
  • Dall Forsythe, a state budget director
    under former Governor Mario M. Cuomo.
  • Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce.
  • Edmund J. McMahon Jr., director of
    the Manhattan Institute's Empire Center.
  • Otsego County Chamber.
  • Amherst Chamber of Commerce.
  • Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce.
  • Buffalo Niagara Partnership.
  • Rochester Business Alliance.
  • Camden Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Rome Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce.
  • Saratoga County Chamber.
  • Cheektowaga Chamber.
  • Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce.
  • Chemung County Chamber of Commerce.
  • The Business Council of New York State.
  • Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.
  • The Business Council of Westchester.
  • Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.
  • The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County.
  • Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • The Citizens' Budget Commission.
  • Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.
  • Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce.
  • The Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce.
  • Guilderland Chamber of Commerce.
  • The National Federation of Independent Business.
  • Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce.
  • Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.
  • Trenton Chamber of Commerce.
  • Manufacturers Association of Central
    New York.
  • Warwick Valley Chamber.
  • Marcy Chamber of Commerce.
  • Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce.
  • Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Business Council staff traveled literally thousands of miles to visit business organizations, chambers of commerce, and newspaper editorial boards to highlight the intellectual weaknesses of the proposals and generate columns, opeds, editorials, press conferences, editorial-board visits, and broadcast-media items on why Proposal One was a bad idea on the merits.

Most major editorial boards in New York denounced the amendment using Business Council arguments.

"The Business Council of New York isn't right about everything, but it correctly pegs this measure as 'The Runaway Spending Amendment,'" a November 11 editorial by the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin said.

"We join Dan Walsh in saying that, yes, New York needs budget reform but, no, this proposed constitutional amendment, is not it," a November 2 editorial by the Jamestown Post-Journal said.

"The Business Council of New York State Inc. led a campaign to defeat the budget reform proposal," an Albany Business Review story said.

The New York Times this morning noted the Council's opposition to the amendment and the breadth of opposition to the amendment statewide.

"Groups, including Citizens Union, the Citizens Budget Commission, The Business Council of New York and the Manhattan Institute, debated and debated," the Times story said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also noted the breadth of opposition to the amendment, including the strong opposition shown by the state's editorial pages. He said that voters "were rather confused" by those editorials, according to a story in the Buffalo News.

Newspaper stories statewide show a different reality.

"I wouldn't give [budget power] to [lawmakers]," Talbert Turner, 35, of Schenectady told the Associated Press. "It would be too many people to try to keep an eye on. I think they'll spend money."

“Thank you, New York!” the Council wrote this morning. “The vote yesterday was a clear message that New Yorkers are fed up with Albany and want real reform in the system,” the message says. “We hope the legislative leaders and the governor will respond. We're ready to help them.”

"Former Governor Alfred E. Smith believed that the budget was safer in the hands of the Executive than in 212 individuals all vying to see who could bring home the most pork to their districts," the site said. "He founded the executive budget system that the voters defended yesterday."