County GOP Reps Seek Change in Budget Process

Republicans request guidelines for the budget to be proposed by the Democrat majority this month, as well as 48 hours to view the plan before it is voted on.

Crying foul over a budget process that sometimes leaves the minority party in the dark, Republicans from the Westchester County Board of Legislators are seeking change they say will bring additional transparency.

Republican legislators Michael Smith (District 3), Gordan Burrows (District 15) and Sheila Marcotte (District 10) proposed a resolution in September containing a provision that the county would not draw from its reserve balance for the 2013 budget. The provision would also ensure the 2013 budget has a zero percent tax increase and would provide the minority party, and public, 48 hours to review the budget between the additions and deletions process and when it goes to the chamber floor.

Smith, Burrows and Macotte joined John Ravitz, chief operating officer of the Business Council of Westchester, in support of the proposal Tuesday in front of the legislator's chambers in White Plains. The group said the proposal, which was voted down earlier this month, binds the county to a set of bi-partisan goals while ensuring all parties have a chance to review the budget.

“We need a framework,” Smith said. "We need a way to do this budget properly."

But with budget talks in their final stages, Democrats don't appear to agree to the same framework. BOL Chairman Kenneth Jenkins (D) said Tuesday no one has agreed to set a zero percent tax increase to date. Democrats also haven't agreed to stay out of the county's fund balance while constructing the 2013 budget.

“We’re focused on having all of the information and making intelligent decisions based on that," Jenkins said.

Republicans contend that dipping into the fund balance could reduce the county's bond rating. A reduced bond rating could lead to larger financial problems down the road.

Jenkins countered that using the fund balance is common practice, and downplayed the impact on the county's bond rating.

"It's the people's money, it's our savings account," Jenkins said. "We shouldn't be trying to stack up the piggy bank where people are going to get hurt."

Republicans said they have been left out of the budget process in past years, claiming that as the minority party in the BOL they once had less than 30 minutes to review a final county budget before it went to the floor.

“What is the problem with allowing the minority legislators in the body and the taxpayers of this county to have their fair voice in saying what this budget is?” Smith asked. “The 10 hours of discussion that goes on beforehand doesn't mean anything if the minority party gets 28 minutes to review a $1.7 million budget before it comes up for a vote.”

In response, Jenkins said Republicans have ample time to review the budget and participate in budget meetings through video conferences and conference calls. He added that the budget process has been in place for decades and the timeline, which begins in May, has already been established.

If Republican legislators want to change the process Jenkins said they would need to bring it to the County Charter Revision Committee.

“We’ve got to play by the rules all the time and not pick out the ones that we just don’t like," Jenkins said.

John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 04:01 PM
to prove my point, Mr. Foulpants, "entitlement" spending started to drastically increase from '85-'93. And who was president during those years? Reagan and H.W. And guess what, that spending increased EVEN MORE under W. http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/spending_chart_1980_2017USb_09s1li111lcn_00f10f40f_Entitlement_Spending_Chart
John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 04:08 PM
before you keep reciting stereotypical drivel, consider this chart. You'll clearly see the biggest increase in welfare spending occurred during Republican presidencies ('85-'93 and '00-08) http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/spending_chart_1980_2017USb_09s1li111lcn_00f10f40f_Entitlement_Spending_Chart
John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 04:12 PM
did someone force Bush to invade Iraq or Afghanistan? what about cutting taxes? But I guess you're right, the $5.7 trillion he added on wasn't his fault....
John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Numbers don't lie. In 1981, "entitlement" spending (healthcare, pensions and welfare) was $244.53 billion. Under Reagan and H.W, that spending almost DOUBLED to $660 billion. An increase of $415 billion. When Clinton took office the spending increased to 976.91, an increase of $318 billion. W Bush took entitlement spending from 976.91 billion to over $1.62 TRILLION, an increase of $643 billion. Obama has increased it from 1.62 trillion to 1.9, an increase of $300 billion in layman's terms: Increase in "entitlement" spending by republicans from 1981-2012 = 1.058 TRILLION increase in spending by democrats over the same time = $560 billion That's right, not only has EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENT since at least 1981 increase entitlement spending but Republican presidents have increased "entitlement" spending at TWICE the rate of democratic president. Facts don't lie http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/spending_chart_1980_2013USb_09s1li111lcn_00f10f40f_En
dita von struedel van trappyodel November 28, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Facts do lie when they are manipulated like you do.
Matt Richter November 28, 2012 at 06:00 PM
These points are all interesting and mostly valid but I'd like to point out that the article is about transparency in the county's budget deliberations. Do the people commenting here think it is reasonable for the Repubs to request 48 hours to review the final budget before casting their votes, instead of the 30 minutes they've been given in some previous years?
dita von struedel van trappyodel November 28, 2012 at 06:23 PM
To me it is shocking that anyone has been doing it in 30 minutes in the past. No wonder our government is in such dissaray. 48 hours seems like a minimum amount of time. As we know, democrats are sneeky and nefarious and slip all sorts of spending pork into the final versions of budegets at all levels of government. Democtats can't be trusted and Republicans need at least 48 hours to review.
Billy November 28, 2012 at 06:39 PM
What could it hurt?
Tom Staudter November 28, 2012 at 07:13 PM
ALL the legislators had ample time to review the budget last year. Whether they were paying atttention or not or even present at the committee meetings where the budget was being discussed in detail is another question. But this minor, picayune quibble whining about needing "more time" to review the final budget reminds me of the ill-prepared students who groan that they didn't have enough time to finish the quiz they knew about for weeks. The larger issue is this: Astorino's budget has some big problems, and as always, he finds somebody else to blame for his own bad decision-making.
Matt Richter November 28, 2012 at 07:23 PM
@Just sayin' Let me try to get you up to speed. We are discussing, specifically, the Dems deletetions from the CE's proposed budget. These deletetions of funding for things like utilities, OT pay, fuel for vehicles, in general things that are going to have to be paid for with real money. After the Dems delete these funds the Repubs have been given very little time to review them (as little as 30 minutes) and no time to speak with department heads, commissioners or any other stakeholders about how the deletion of the funds will impact the county's ability to fulfill its mission. These deletions are done behind closed doors, not in committee meetings. They are done in secrecy and they have, in the past two years, caused the county's reserve fund to suffer as well as negatively impacting programs and services.
Billy November 28, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Problems? What problems? I know not enough's been cut, but what else?
John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 07:26 PM
lol nice rebuttal. Those numbers are facts, manipulated by no one. Get over it. Your ignorance to facts truly baffles me. But being ignorant doesn't make you any less wrong.
John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 07:27 PM
so could someone tell me exactly how democrats are making this place Greece when it's Republicans doing the majority of entitlement spending?
John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Increase in "entitlement" spending by republicans from 1981-2012 = 1.058 TRILLION increase in spending by democrats over the same time = $560 billion what's up with that?
John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 07:32 PM
so then please explain to me how those numbers were "manipulated"? It's basic math, no manipulation needed. Since 1981 Republican Presidents have increased "entitlement" spending 1.06 trillion. Democrats have only increased it by barely half that. Do the math yourself if you don't believe me, just don't cry when you come up with answers you don't like.
Billy November 28, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Go ahead & delete more money & programs from the budget! When will the ax fall on the county cops? How's the reserve fund suffer from futher cutting the budget? I would think it would strengthen.
John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 07:50 PM
"As we know, democrats are sneeky and nefarious and slip all sorts of spending pork into the final versions of budegets (sic)" funny thing is, during the same 30 year period from 1981-2012, Republicans have added $8.3 trillion to the total debt while democrats have added 6.8 trillion. That's right, over the last 30 years Republicans have added debt at a faster rate than democrats. Again, not taking sides, these are just facts http://www.skymachines.com/US-National-Debt-Per-Capita-Percent-of-GDP-and-by-Presidental-Term.htm
John Gruber November 28, 2012 at 08:03 PM
In an attempt to dispel some stereotypes, the general consensus here seems to be that democrats love entitlements and love spending. All I ask if you look at these 2 charts of info from 1981 to the present and then decide. The first one shows "entitlement" spending, the other shows the national debt by presidency. Simple math shows that not only did Republican presidents increase entitlement spending at twice the rate of Democratic presidents, they also added 1.5 trillion more than democrats to the national debt over the past 30 years. Before I get swarmed, let me just say I'm not taking some sides, just doing some math. And I did the math because I was interested in facts, nothing more. http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/spending_chart_1980_2013USb_09s1li111lcn_00f10f40f_En http://www.skymachines.com/US-National-Debt-Per-Capita-Percent-of-GDP-and-by-Presidental-Term.htm
Matt Richter November 28, 2012 at 08:10 PM
@Billy, The deletes are only half the equation. The Dems also make additions to the budget that are far greater than the deletes. The deletes are part of the Dems attempt to find money for their additions. In other words, when they 'delete' $300k from para-transit because they claim there will be an "fuel savings" they are spending the $300k on something else. Problem is, there was not a fuel savings, in fact fuel prices increased, now they have left us in a hole which must be filled with money from the reserve fund. Moody's recently put Westchester's debt rating on a negative outlook. In Moody's report, they cited the Dems habit of drawing down our reserve funds as the main cause. If we were to lose our AAA bond rating from Moody's, it would cost the county millions of dollars in future financing.
John Gruber November 29, 2012 at 12:30 AM
actually even if you DO factor in Obama, Republicans have still increased the national debt more over the last 30 years than Democrats. Republicans have added 8.3 trillion and Democrats (mostly Obama) have added $6.4 trillion. Again, these are facts arrived at through basic math.
dita von struedel van trappyodel November 29, 2012 at 04:30 AM
It is very fuzzy math if you ask me. It is most clear that it is Democrats not Republicans who are in favor of deficit spending, redistribution of wealth and guaranteeing equality of outcome. Republicans stand for liberty and equality of opportunity.
John Gruber November 29, 2012 at 02:01 PM
lol there's nothing "fuzzy about it's black and white basic adding and subtracting. STONE COLD MATH says you're absolutely wrong and your comments are based on ignorance and stereotypes. It's clear you're not interested in facts that support arguments
John Gruber November 29, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Smelly here it is again, this time sorted out by presidencies 1981-88 = start: 244.3 billion End: 440.66 Increase of 196.13 89-92 = Start: 440.66 billion End: 658.88 Increase of 218.42 93-00 = Start: 658.88 billion End: 976.91 Increase of 318.03 01-08 = Start: 976.91 billion End: 1620.08 Increase of 643.17 09-12 = Start: 1620.08 billion End: 1913.04 Increase of 292.96 Basic math. FYI our latest president has actually increased entitlement spending by the LEAST amount over the last 30 years
Billy November 29, 2012 at 03:04 PM
John, you do realize over most of this 35 year history there were Republican Presidents (20 years v. 15 years) so of course they probably added more to the debt than Democrats as they were in power longer. But from your charts its looks to be about equal as Obama's really piled it on in the last 4 years by adding over $5,7 Trillion to our debt and he's got NO plans to deal with the issue, other than raise taxes on those making over $250k.
John Gruber November 29, 2012 at 03:40 PM
by the time Obama is done there are 4 extra years of republicans, and they had the opportunity to decrease it and they didn't, so if you're saying that those 4 extra years account for the fact that they have increased entitlement spending at almost twice the rate of democrats than that's a terrible cop out because they have not been in office twice as long. Theres a difference of about $600 billion. No democratic president has even increased it by more than half that since '81. In fact, the biggest entitlement spender over the last 30 years was BUSH, who DOUBLED the entitlement spending of his predecessor, a DEMOCRAT. I'll do you one better, I'll use Carter too (last democratic president before Clinton) and assume Obama increases entitlement spending by the same amount during his next term. Carter increased it by $90 billion and if Obama adds another 290 billion, the 610 + 90 + 292 BARELY crack the $990 billion mark. Still less than Republicans. And if you don't wanna assume what Obama will spend, fine just include Carter then. That's 690 billion compared to 1.06 trillion with republicans only having 4 more years in office. 4 years does not account for over $370 billion, as no democrat has ever increased it more than 310 billion.
John Gruber November 29, 2012 at 03:52 PM
look at it another way, this time by rate. Republicans have been in office for 20 of those years and increased entitlement spending by 1.06 trillion. That averages out to $52 billion a year. Democrats have increased it by $610 billion over 12 years averaging out to $50 billion a year. the idea that they spend more on entitlements is purely false no matter how you look at it.
Billy November 29, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Nice try John, but your all over the place with your numbers, kind of like Obama! The just don't add up.
John Gruber November 29, 2012 at 04:09 PM
also, since Jimmy Carter, democrats have increased the debt by 7.06 trillion over 16 years averaging $440 billion a year while republicans have increased it by 8.3 trillion over 20 years, averaging $415 billion, a difference of just $25 billion and one presidential term
John Gruber November 29, 2012 at 04:15 PM
no, I'm just very good with numbers and let them do the talking, instead of basic stereotypes that hold no truth when put up against facts. they don't add up? I'm pretty sure that's EXACTLY how you calculate the rate of spending. Again, don't be mad because numbers go against basic generalizations that are not based on facts. you're so deeply entrenched in these basic generalizations you don't even bother to analyze numbers with basic math
John Gruber November 29, 2012 at 04:27 PM
basic math one more time. increase in Entitlement Spending rate = increase in spending/time Republicans: 1.06/ 20 = $53 billion per year Democrats : 610 billion/12 = 50.8 billion It doesn't get simpler than this. They increased entitlement spending 1.2 billion a year more than democrats


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