A Troubling Lack Of Transparency Must End

Even though the days are getting longer, the sunlight in the Capitol is still conspicuously missing. Anyone who believed the Governor’s pro-transparency mantra that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” must surely be wondering how someone who talks so much about open government can simply refuse to practice what he preaches. As public servants, government officials have a core responsibility to inform the constituents we represent.
There is a growing list of items on which Gov. Cuomo has sorely missed the transparency mark and I, along with many open-government advocates, believe the troubling pattern of secrecy must stop. Among the many missteps are:

  • An unwillingness to change the “3-men-in-a-room” approach to closed-door budget negotiations;
  • Withholding school aid financial estimates for districts trying to prepare budgets;
  • No financial plan released for the $4 billion Tappan Zee Bridge project;
  • Continued delays in providing reports and results for the START-UP NY program; and
  • A bizarre executive policy to purge emails every 90 days despite the capacity to store decades worth of data.

This week the Assembly Minority Conference stood with education professionals and advocates calling for the governor to stop playing games with school funding estimates and release the projected state aid. His unprecedented refusal to provide this information hurts students and educators.
All of this adds up to a disturbing trend, an unacceptable dearth of governmental transparency. Now, more than ever, we must work toward regaining the public’s trust. New Yorkers deserve better than the corrupt and secretive government they are getting.
As we prepare for one of our most important tasks as legislators, crafting a state budget, it is now especially important that we discuss every idea about how to improve New York.
Budget discussions should absolutely include leaders of all legislative conferences.
Assembly and Senate minority conferences represent millions of New Yorkers, and the voices of our constituents deserve to be represented.
There are ideas and insights from minority conferences that should be brought to the table. The Governor keeps using words like “open,” “transparent,” and “reform,” and it’s time to back up those words with action. Being inclusive during this year’s budget negotiations is a good place to start.
The Assembly Minority Conference has time and again presented solutions to address pressing issues like a broken state education system, corruption and an over-taxed and over-regulated economy. Our members serve millions of residents who deserve to have a voice at the table.
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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