The State Budget is more than the establishment of the State’s funding priorities and revenue policies, it is the document that defines much of the policy debate as well. The tougher the times, the greater the focus must be on the budget. The consequences can mean a reduction in your own organization’s budget, or an additional cost of doing business.
It is voluminous, complex, daunting. The interplay between Federal, State and Local levels and Public Authorities. The roles of the Departments, the Division of the Budget, the Legislative Fiscal Committees, the Comptroller and Attorney General. Preparation through implementation. The financial plan, revenue estimation, econometric modeling, dedicated funds. Operating aid versus capital. Long term planning, pay as you go or bonded. Splits, shares. Appropriations, allocations. Grants, formulas. Bonding, long term capital planning.
To navigate that process, you need someone with deep budget and fiscal experience and expertise. Many lobbying firms have worked around the budget issues, but at Ways and Means NY, our name acknowledges our roots are firmly planted in that world. From analysis to negotiations, from drafting and implementing the budget, we have lived the details and know the traps of the process. We know how the Financial Plan dictates the direction of the debate, and how revenue proposals can be altered or replaced, to limit exposure and move the process forward. We know the budget process does not end with its passage, but rather is a process with many steps that each need attention, from vetoes through implementation, watching the timing of the flow of funds and the contracts that are issued under it, all making it year-round work. When fewer funds are available, the battles over the available funds become more fierce.
Much focus is given to appropriations, seeking funding directly through appropriations or indirectly, through larger funding amounts that are later allocated by formula, grants or contracts. Such funding is highly competitive, and gets more so as the dollar amounts increase. We have been involved in the broad spectrum of funding, from preserving programs built from the ground up to finding funds for legislative initiatives, to the forging of public-private partnerships and the closing of the billion dollar multiyear deals.
The budget is not just about spending, but also revenues, the means to fund that spending. New taxes and fees are sprinkled throughout the budget, and the battles to keep or jettison those proposals result in fierce battles between opponents, and sometimes, traditional coalition members. The revenue side of the budget is the most pressurized, since each dollar proposed for removal must be replaced with another, since a spending initiative could also tumble if the revenue is lost.
The budget is not just about money either. Substantial changes to law and regulation accompany the budget each year. Contained within the appropriation bills and the governing language within the accompanying Article VII legislation, are changes to State policy, major and minor. Some are germane to the budget to which they have been attached, but can be wholesale changes of direction for which the budget may provide the only vehicle to passage. We have been there to make the compelling case for keeping and removing this wording, directly involved in the most challenging battles in budget history.
The budget world is uncomfortable to many, but it is home to us, as our name says. We know the ways and means to achieve your ends.