Published in
The Empire

DiNapoli: Gov's budget erodes government oversight -- updated

Courtesy of the Comptroller's office

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli gave Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed executive budget a mixed review today. DiNapoli applauded the Governor and state legislature for making "progress toward aligning state spending with revenue" but criticized Cuomo for proposing changes that would give him and future governors "greater powers that would reduce long-established checks and balances".

“This year’s Executive Budget proposal continues that trend and substantially reduces out-year deficits," DiNapoli said in a statement. "However, this progress should not be made at the expense of transparency, appropriate checks and balances, and the realistic and necessary safeguarding of public dollars.”

DiNapoli has warned before of the threat the sluggish economy poses to the state's finances. He reiterated his concerns over tax receipts, the potential for a global economic slowdown and the potential for decreased federal funds "that could make achieving the expected level of revenue or savings challenging" in this year's budget.

He also took Cuomo to task for a number of proposals in his executive budget plan:

  • Allow the Executive to move spending authority from one agency to another with minimal oversight, or legislative input, and without regard to the original intent of the funding in the Enacted Budget as approved by the Legislature.
  • Strips the Comptroller's office of its power to review and approve contracts issued by state agencies.
  • Doesn't put a price tag on the implementation of a Tier VI pension plan, which would give state employees the option of enrolling in a 401(k)-type plan.

A request for comment was put into the Governor's office.

Here's a statement from Budget Director Robert Menga, in a somewhat oblique response to DiNapoli's criticism:

We can no longer abide by the Albany status quo that allows for out of control spending and contracting that wastes taxpayer dollars. To avoid cuts in services, local aid or tax increases, the Executive Budget directs State agencies to be more efficient and focuses resources on their core programs and services. The flexibility language will allow for a range of operational measures and will improve functions such as procurement, real estate, and information technology.