PROCESS IS IMPORTANT

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FYI: The Senate’s first official action in its new session was to reform the legislature’s much-maligned budget process. The Senate bill, which passed on Tuesday, changes a number of timetables. In addition to moving the start of the fiscal year from April 1 to May 1, the bill: requires agencies to submit their budget proposals to the legislature and the public at the same time they send it to the governor, in mid-October; tightens the governor’s time frame for submitting an executive budget to the legislature; and mandates both chambers pass budgeting resolutions, setting spending parameters, by mid-March. Should the legislature and governor fail to agree on a budget by the fiscal year’s start, the previous year’s budget would automatically be adopted as a default. The bill does not, however, address the concentration of decision-making power in the hands of the governor, speaker and majority leader–a formula that is often cited as the core of the budgetary gridlock. The bill now moves to the Assembly. [1/17/03]