Budget expert weighs in on what to look out for during state budget presentation

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As New York continues to wait on a state and local aid package from Congress, the state is anticipating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget that will be outlined on Tuesday.

“The key is to be realistic about the size of the problem, realistic about the federal aid, make less painful first choices. And then, if you want to assume some federal aid, have a contingency plan,” said Citizens Budget Commission President Andrew Rein.

The Governor has said the state needs $15 billion from Washington. In the past, he’s said there could be across the board 20 percent cuts to schools, hospitals and localities without help. 

“The Governor keeps talking about a $15 billion revenue shortfall, but it is an old projection. And since then, Comptroller [Thomas] DiNapoli has said revenues are coming in $4 billion higher or more than that so suddenly we’re talking about $11 billion. The December federal aid package, while not directly benefiting the state, it’s education aid, transportation aid will also help offset some of the state’s implicit cuts,” Rein said. 

Rein notes, while there are hard choices to make in balancing the budget, spending should be looked at first. 

“Restructure our capital program or economic development incentives that aren’t creating jobs. That can probably save $3 billion to $4 billion. Those are the things we should do first,” he said.

As some in the legislature have talked about raising taxes on the wealthy, Rein said they should look at education aid to wealthy districts first.

“The state supports wealth districts to $1.6 billion, and these are districts that already fund a sound, basic education with their own resources,” he said.

While the Governor has proposed revenue raisers in his State of the State address like legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana and online sports betting, it’s not likely either of those would generate significant revenue in the short-term. 

Last year’s proposed state budget was $178 billion.

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