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Secrecy in state budget is an invitation to fraud and waste. You OK with that?

Your Right to Know

Secrecy in state budget is an invitation to fraud and waste. You OK with that?

The $175.5 billion state budget works out to be a little less than $9,000 for each man, woman and child in the state of New York.

Add in the fact that that budget also plays a significant role the thousands of additional dollars you pay in school and local property taxes, and we're talking some serious indentations being made in each New Yorker's paycheck every year thanks to that spending plan.

Wouldn't it be great to know exactly how state lawmakers and the governor determine how that money is spent and exactly how much of it goes where? Well, in New York, you really don't have that option.

Don't take our word for it. Believe the state comptroller, Tom DiNapoli.

DiNapoli issued a report on the state budget earlier this week and devoted an entire section of his report to the transparency, or lack thereof, in the budget process. He cited a number of bad practices, from secret negotiations in legislative conference committees that are supposed to be held in public, practices that limit the amount of time that the public and rank-and-file legislators have to review budget bills, taking expensive items that should be in the budget out of the regular budget so that the public has less access to that spending, and putting too much power in the hands of the governor to modify the budget after it's passed.

It's all designed to keep the citizens from knowing how the budget is created. And all this secrecy is an invitation to fraud, waste and other abuses. 

They say you don't want to know how sausage is made. But you do want to know how your state budget is made.

Our upcoming editorial on Saturday goes into more detail on the transparency aspect of the budget process.

You also can check out the comptroller's budget report yourself by clicking here. The transparency part is only four pages of the 70-plus-page report (pages 8-11), but it packs a punch.

Read it for yourself. Get mad. And get calling. Contact your local legislators and demand they take a greater role in making the budget process more transparent.

It's your right to know. Exercise that right.