Eight days past the statutory deadline, Governor Cuomo’s Division of the Budget (DOB) has finally released a required mid-year update to the state financial plan.
The report is not only late for a third consecutive year; at first glance, in what’s becoming a Cuomo administration tradition, it features minimal new information. For example, the 2014-15 budget gap is still projected at $1.7 billion, even though data from state Comptroller DiNapoli’s office suggest it will be much smaller. More analysis to follow in this space.
Meanwhile, and probably not by coincidence, DiNapoli was the only player in the state budget development process who met Wednesday’s deadline for issuing revenue estimates in advance of next Friday’s statutory deadline for a Quick Start consensus forecast. The Senate Finance and Assembly Ways & Means Committee staffs, on both the majority and minority sides, are overdue in preparing their revenue estimates, presumably awaiting the Mid-Year report and DOB’s 2013 Economic, Spending and Revenue Methodologies report, also released today .
For a third consecutive year, Governor Andrew Cuomo is late in issuing a mid-year update to New York State’s financial plan.
The governor is thus once again in violation of Section 23 of the State Finance Law, which requires him to update the financial plan “within 30 days of the close of a quarter to which it pertains.” That would have been last Wednesday.
Reportedly, the terms of a tentative agreement between the teachers’ union and board of education in Westchester’s Bedford Central School District would do away with step increases for newly hired teachers.
For years, school boards (and mayors and other local government officials, for that matter) have been clamoring for repeal of the Triborough Amendment – which allows for automatic “step” pay increases even after collectively-bargained contracts expire — as a way to help reign in spending. Under Triborough, employers are at a distinct disadvantage in the bargaining process as there’s no impetus for employee groups to accept anything less than what the law guarantees in step increases. (more…)
Governor Andrew Cuomo has little hope of closing the state’s projected budget gaps over the next few years if he doesn’t continue to clamp a tight lid on state operations costs — and to that end, he’s pushing for the closure and consolidation of more state prisons and institutions for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.
Monterey "shock" grads marching
The latest shoe to drop is the closure of four more correctional facilities, which is expected to generate a savings of $30 million a year. The move was announced last Friday, ensuring it received limited attention in weekend news media coverage. From a budgetary standpoint, however, Cuomo deserves more attention and credit for his institutional downsizing moves—even though he isn’t promoting them with anything approaching the hype he reserves for, say, token “tax cuts” in a budget that actually raised overall taxes.
Twenty-seven* school districts were seeking to override the state’s property tax cap in yesterday’s school budget votes. Twenty of these districts — or 74 percent — failed to collect the needed 60 percent supermajority to pass, according to news accounts. The closest result was in the Cornwall School District in Orange County, which fell two votes short of an override supermajority.
Noting that New Yorkers had been treated last week to “almost daily political perp walks” involving “a parade of office-holders,” an editorial in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal pointed out: “The bigger scandal in the Empire State continues to be what the politicians do that’s legal.”
Defending the new state budget’s three-year “millionaire’s tax” extension in a Newsday op-ed today, Governor Cuomo writes: “The extension doesn’t take place until 2015, the year our financial projections show a $5-billion budget gap. By extending this tax, which generates $2 billion, the state addresses the future gap.”
Huh? Where did that “$5 billion budget gap” come from?
Based on their just-introduced one-house budget, Assembly Democrats don’t support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to eliminate all required reports by local governments and school districts to state agencies. From a transparency and accountability standpoint, that’s good news for taxpayers and the general public, as explained here.
Much less positively, in the same Article 7 budget bill, Assembly Democrats go along with the governor’s proposal to raid the State Insurance Fund (SIF) for $1.75 billion, which I criticize in this New York Post op-ed today.
In line with New York’s motto — “Excelsior” — the state assumes its tax receipts are headed ever upward.
Late last week, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced they had agreed to a consensus forecast adding $200 million to the combined receipts already budgeted for fiscal years 2012-13 (which ends on March 31) and 2013-14. Cuomo’s Executive Budget already had assumed healthy tax receipts growth of 4.8 percent— so the consensus simply pushes the envelope a little further out there, in an arguably riskier direction.
The biggest of the almost-new taxes in Governor Cuomo’s “no new taxes” budget is being targeted for elimination by state Senate Republicans. They were joined today by business and industry representatives in calling on Cuomo to remove the extension of the Section 18-A “assessment” from his budget proposal.