Niagara Gazette

Opinion

January 26, 2013

Editorial: Welcome openness on state budget

Niagara Gazette — Gov. Cuomo is making good on his pledge to enable all New Yorkers to become involved in the state’s traditionally hopelessly arcane budget process.

In some ways, there is still a long way to go, but the governor’s creation of a website to lay open his proposed document for all to see signals a welcome intention.

The website is openbudget.ny.gov, and on it is all the information contained in Cuomo’s budget proposal. If you’re Internet savvy, indignant over public non-participation in the past and motivated to take part in the process, the door is now open.

The remaining obstacle is an old one: The budget will still be debated and eventually written by the infamous “three men in a room”: the governor, the Senate majority leader and the Assembly speaker. We trust, though, that openbudget.ny.gov bespeaks a readiness on the governor’s part to address even that anomaly.

Cuomo’s message accompanying the announcement of openbudget.ny.gov says, “Open Budget is bringing the people back into government by taking budget data out of government file cabinets and making it available to the public for the first time in an easy-to-access, downloadable form. This will facilitate research, analysis and innovation. As a first step in my Open New York initiative, Open Budget provides a powerful tool for transparency and accountability, fostering citizen engagement and enhancing the public’s trust in government.”

The news release continues: “The Open Budget website provides easy, single-stop access to New York’s wealth of budget data, including comprehensive machine-readable raw financial data along with tools and charts to make that information more understandable. To support transparency and to encourage participation in government, researchers, citizens, business and the media will now have direct access to high-value data which they can search, explore and download; use for analysis; and use to build their own additional tools that find practical uses for the data for all New Yorkers.”

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