Friday, April 16, 2010

Budget “Extenders” Won't Solve Non-Profits' Problems Due to Late State Budget

According to today’s Albany Times Union, in the absence of any budget for the 2010 – 2011 New York State fiscal year that began more than two weeks ago, Governor David Paterson is drafting “extenders” of the current year budget. There is also movement in the Legislature to add funding into the extenders to keep state parks open, according to the Times Union article. Stop-gap measures for interim funding of state agencies would keep them functioning, but these are not even a temporary solution for many not for profit organizations that largely depend on state appropriations, like the Public Utility Law Project of New York (PULP).

During late budget periods such as this, many not for profit organizations must adopt harsh austerity measures, live on credit, struggle to continue operations, and take the risk of continuing their services without reimbursement, in anticipation of continued funding. The Times Union reported earlier this week on PULP’s plight. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved in the ensuing days. As PULP reported last week:
if the State does not fund PULP at a sustainable level, New Yorkers will lose the ability of PULP to participate fully in many important proceedings on behalf of low income energy and utility consumers. Without energy and utility service, low income families will go without light and heat and the ability to contact emergency services, any of which may lead to homelessness and other hardships. . . . Since its inception more than 29 years ago, PULP has been instrumental in promoting universal service, consumer protections, and affordability for New York’s residential utility customers, achieving many milestone accomplishments with lasting value.
Although the state legislature has appropriated funds for PULP each year since our founding in 1981, the future is clouded because the Governor again did not include any appropriation for PULP in either his proposed budget in January or in any bill extenders, and the State Senate has yet to take any action to continue funding for PULP. See PULP Network, State Budget Impasse Threatens PULP's Future, April 9, 2010.

Gerald Norlander
Executive Director

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