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For Release — Monday, October 31, 2005

FIVE BUSINESS GROUPS JOIN STOP THE AMENDMENT

ALBANY—Five New York business associations have joined Stop the Amendment, the coalition of think tanks, fiscal-policy experts, good-government groups, former state budget officials, and business groups chaired by former Governor Hugh Carey. The coalition is united in its opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would radically change New York’s budget-making process.

The business groups that have joined the coalition include the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce; the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce; the Rochester Business Alliance; and the Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce.

"Proposal One will only lead to more runaway spending and higher taxes," said Rick Bianchi, chairman of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. "This proposal would make the fiscal situation worse in New York State. The passage of this proposal would allow for more out-of-control spending and late budgets, which our businesses and citizens cannot afford."

"While the Fulton County Chamber has been very supportive of reform in government throughout the State, this proposal will damage any progress that has been made by turning the power of the New York State budget over to the Legislature, virtually handing them an open checkbook," said George Wallace Hart, president of the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Taxes and fees have skyrocketed in upstate New York and we can not afford to hand over the pen for even larger budgets. School districts, cities, towns and villages have a hard enough time trying to balance budgets and pay for state mandates without additional authority being given to the Legislature and taken away from the Governor."

"The Herkimer County Chamber believes in real budget reform that promotes timely budgets, responsible spending, and the opportunity to reduce our high taxes," said David LaValla, president of the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce. "This proposed Constitutional amendment on this year’s statewide ballot would lead to more government spending which will mean higher taxes, more budget gaps leading to higher debt. The proposed amendment would also give the State Legislature a strong incentive not to enact annual budgets on time, by giving lawmakers extraordinary new power over state spending whenever they do not adopt the budget on time."

"What New York State needs is real budget reform," said Sandra Parker, CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance. "Real reform includes an open and public budget process that is fiscally responsible and on time. This proposal creates a flawed contingency budget process that will encourage late budgets."

"To change our constitution in any manner that would handcuff the fiduciary role of the governor would further cripple New York State by removing budget-spending controls," said James Berg, president and CEO of the Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce. "Passing the amendment means inviting the fox into the henhouse."

The coalition, which includes 29 groups, is conducting 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.

Other coalition members include: