Gov. Dannel Malloy and legislators deserve credit for addressing the state's budget deficit during this year's legislative session. As important as the work that was accomplished is the way in which it was done.

At a time when residents and business leaders are demanding greater accountability and value from state government, leaders balanced the budget primarily by cutting spending and without increasing taxes. The tone was set early by the governor, and lawmakers did their best to follow his lead. But as everyone knows, there is still lots of work to do.



Too often New Yorks approach to budgeting obscures spending and borrowing, DiNapoli said in a statement. The governor and the Legislature deserve credit for putting the state on stronger financial footing, but it is time to fix the persistent problems and improve New Yorks fiscal practices.

Among the reforms DiNapoli proposes is giving his office the power to review public authority spending, and prohibiting such authorities from receiving state-appropriated funds until projects are identified, scored and ranked.

He also proposes changes in statute to make the budget a multi-part document that can be difficult to decipher without a intricate knowledge of legislative language more readable and digestible for the public.

Such a proposal includes a requirement that the state Division of Budget outline changes between the governors budget proposal and the final pieces of legislation, and make them public before the budget is passed. Lawmakers and good government groups have knocked the last-minute flurry of budget activity before the April 1 deadline because it at times requires messages of necessity, a procedural step taken by the governor to move legislation to the floor of the Assembly and Senate more quickly to circumvent the required three-day aging process. More controversial budget bills were not finalized until March 31 this year the last day of the previous fiscal year.

Transparency was the focus of DiNapolis February analysis of the 2016-17 executive budget, and on Tuesday in Syracuse he urged better oversight of the disbursement of economic development funds and less of a reliance on lump-sum disbursements.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year defended more open-ended budgeting practices.

Sometimes you dont know what they are at the time youre doing the budget, but you know you want to do economic development in Utica, he said. So you have the money earmarked and allocated and appropriated for Utica, then as you figure out what exactly the program is and the use and you get the details ... the agency reviews those details, and then its announced.

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The full report from DiNapolis office is below:

DiNapoli Fiscal Reform Report by Matthew Hamilton



With voter turnout in Vallejo dropping every year for Participatory Budgeting, the Vallejo City Council wants to re-examine or re-think the process. Maybe they could investigate better methods in their outreach process, become more inclusive to demographics that are not largely represented in voting statistics, plus raise the bar on voting numbers for winning ballots, or actually take the time to listen to the many residents#x2019; needs.

In order to realize a financial democracy #x2014; the primary purpose of the resident participatory budgeting system #x2014; residents#x2019; free participation and representativeness are required. However, realistically, there exists a severe power imbalance in the budgeting process between residents and the bureaucratic organization involved, and the system itself may become operated by people of social power. This is possible because in the traditional administrative paradigm, professional officials lacked training in human interaction, debate and mediation technique. There also exist remaining authoritarian habits.

In addition, it is difficult to have the younger demographic or those with occupations to actually participate as residents. The council recently approved Cycle 4 rule book to drop the minimum voting age from 16 to 14. I think getting younger people more involved in the democratic system being counted as residents is a good idea.

Otherwise, participating agents are mostly those who have relatively more time, such as the older demographic, the unemployed and the independent business workers. This limits the inclusiveness of participating agents and creates problems of representativeness. The essence of the resident participatory budgeting system lies in overcoming the inconsistencies between representative politics and participation to promote the development of a financial democracy. An authentic form of resident participation is the key element #x2014; when residents criticize and control previous forms of an occlusive and inflexible administration system and decision making system.

#x201c;In the usual forms of democratic engagement: Public hearings and town meetings and the people who go to those things don#x2019;t expect anything to happen because of their participation,#x201d; said Archon Fung, a Harvard University professor who researches participatory governance. #x201c;Participatory budgeting is fundamentally different because people expect something to happen with their participation.#x201d;

To fulfill that vision, the process needs resources behind it, enough funds for projects to demonstrate a visible community benefit and ample capacity from the facilitators of the process (whether its officials or City Hall) to truly reach out to the community. Without intention and capacity, PB risks duplicating the process of elections for ordinary representation democracy where white middle or upper class voters are far more likely to vote and therefore enjoy an outsized influence on their neighborhood.

Winning projects may not be the most worthy. Scalability is a problem the larger the community served by the process #x2014; the more difficult it is to ensure that both the process and the resulting projects reflect the needs of the entire community.

If there was $1 million to put toward jobs or programming you#x2019;d probably have 5,000 people showing up for the vote, not to mention community meetings, rather than #x201c;touch and feel#x201d; city capital projects and infrastructure that consistently confuses residents.



When Feed My Sheep began offering financial assistance to clients, attendance at a budgeting class became a requirement.

A basic budgeting class will be at 5:30 pm Thursday at Feed My Sheep, 613 S. Third St., Temple