Today’s news:

Padavan proposes transparency blueprint for state government

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) unveiled a series of reforms last Thursday that he said would bring transparency and accountability to Albany.

“My ‘Blueprint for A Stronger NY’ would break the secretive and dysfunctional culture that sadly exists in Albany,” the senator said in a statement. “New Yorkers from all political persuasions and walks of life are deeply concerned with the direction of the state. This plan would take necessary steps to put New York back on the right track — a track that restores common sense through accountability and transparency.”

Part of Padavan’s plan would curb state spending by creating a cap that would limit spending to the Consumer Price Index or 4 percent on a year-to-year basis.

He also asks for the creation of an independent budget office, which he said would provide a nonpartisan view of the state’s financial situation. Currently, the budget office is staffed by the governor.

Under his blueprint a two-thirds majority would be needed in the state Legislature for tax increases. Only a simple majority is needed now.

Additionally, Padavan’s plan calls for aggressively combating waste, fraud and abuse at all levels of state government, including Medicaid fraud enforcement, which costs the state billions of dollars.

“Challenging fiscal times calls for action that makes sense. It demands everyone be strong protectors of the taxpayer,” Padavan said. He blamed Gov. David Paterson and the Legislature with passing a budget that skyrocketed spending.

“Unfortunately, last year Gov. Paterson and the legislative majorities decided to push aside years of reform and construct a fiscally reckless and irresponsible budget that has put the state’s economy in a protracted downturn with a record spending increase and burdening New York families, seniors and small businesses with $11 billion in new taxes and fees during the worst recession in decades,” said Padavan. “My plan would help ensure that a repeat of last year’s disastrous budget is avoided in the future.”

In his State of the State address, Paterson also said he would like to institute a spending cap, although the plan lacked specifics.

“Whether it is this administration or the next or the one after that, we have got to find a procedure that cures the spending structure that has infected our budget process for the last 20 years,” Paterson said.

Padavan’s initiative also includes provisions for ethics reform.

The senator said his plan “would break the practice of influence peddling” by requiring “reasonable disclosure requirements” for campaign consultants who also lobby legislators.

Padavan also wants the state to create a Web site to let the public review the performance of government programs to see how taxpayer dollars are being spent.

“New Yorkers want a government that is open and fair. They want a government free from partisan wrangling and rancor,” he said. “Taking on the status quo and reforming the way the state Legislature conducts business has been a priority of mine throughout my time in the Senate and it’s something that will continue in the 2010 legislative session,” Padavan said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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