When Inefficiency Becomes the Status Quo

By Grumet, Louis | The CPA Journal, June 2002 | Go to article overview

When Inefficiency Becomes the Status Quo


Grumet, Louis, The CPA Journal


Publisher's Column

Point of fact: Not once in the last 18 years has the New York State legislature completed the budget on time. That means that we now have high school graduates and eligible voters helping elect or reelect (the vast majority of the state's elected officials do get reelected) legislators without ever having seen them fulfill their basic responsibility of passing the state budget on the schedule mandated by the New York State Constitution.

Although the state's fiscal year begins on April 1, the actual budget cycle begins nine months earlier, as each part of the government compiles its revenue and expense budget for the ensuing fiscal year. For example, the revenue and expense budgets for fiscal year 2003/04 were set and approved during March and April of this year. Therefore, when the legislature passes a late budget, they are using old numbers-not a prescription for effective government.

But there's more. Operating the state without an approved budget affects everyone in the state, because state-- funded organizations and services that rely to any degree on state and local government funding cannot reliably budget or plan their programs and services without knowing the state's budget for their sector. For example, the school year officially starts on July 1, and when that date rolls around with the budget still up in the air, the education system, New York City, and many other local governments must begin the new year not knowing their budgets. In the education system, I have no doubt that this pattern even has a subtle psychological affect on students' attitudes; over time, their perspective on the importance of deadlines becomes skewed by this apparently blase attitude from the state government. …

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