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March 15, 2006

Lawmakers propose constitutional amendment to limit budget growth

New York's annual budget growth would be limited under a constitutional amendment proposed by state Senator Raymond Meier (R-Oneida County) and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-Erie County).

"The amendment would encourage fiscal discipline, make New York more business-friendly, and hold the line on increases in taxes and fees," a joint press release from the legislators' offices said.

New York's appetite for revenue has grown out of control, leading to new fees and increases in every successive budget, Senator Meier said. "Taxpayers are required to stay within a budget to make ends meet, it is time we hold our state government accountable to the same standards."

"Unchecked budget growth is costing us population and jobs," Assemblyman Schimminger said. New York needs to limit the revenue increases that feed ever-bigger budgets, Schimminger added.

The Meier/Schimminger amendment would limit the total amount of state taxes imposed in any fiscal year to no more than the previous year's revenues adjusted for inflation and population growth. The amendment would also forbid the state to meet the revenue limit by shifting costs to counties and other municipalities.

Should the state receive revenues over and above the allowable amount, half would be returned to state taxpayers and half would be deposited in a budget stabilization fund, the press release said.

The amendment would allow for adjustments to the revenue limit if a court order or legislative action transfers the cost of a federal or local government program to or from the state.

A budget stabilization fund would be created under the amendment. "This fund will function as a revenue stream in years of economic decline and revenue shortfall," the press release said. "This revenue stream will help the government meet its obligations and provide vital services during difficult years."

"New York's taxes are too big because spending gets bigger every year," Business Council President and CEO Daniel B. Walsh said. "We applaud Senator Meier and Assemblyman Schimminger for pushing the kind of budget reform that Albany truly needs."