Published in
The Empire

Did You Bet On An On-time NYS Budget?

This might just be your year!  But don't put all your chips on the April 1st deadline just yet.

Sure, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that lawmakers a reached a $132.5 billion dollar budget framework yesterday. But today's when all when legislators start hashing out the nitty-gritty details of the budget bills and there are plenty of people who'd like to see some changes to the budget in its final form.

Take New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,  who issued a statement yesterday calling the plan, "the largest cut in state aid to New York City ever."  In its current form, the budget deal cuts total state spending spending by $10 billion, and does not raise any new taxes.

The city was seeking $600 million in funding from the state. Bloomberg had asked the state to reduce pension costs and relax other mandates. Right now the city says the current deal provides only $200 million of the funding (leaving a $400 million dollar hole).

At a press event on taxi fuel standards, Bloomberg told reporters that he did not know all the details of the budget, "but I know enough to be concerned. What I know is that less of our taxpayers' money is going to be coming back to the city."

The Mayor went on to call the city, "the jewel in the state's financial crown."

"We're the one that's generating the money," said Bloomberg, "and if we don't keep making investments and improving the quality of this city, then we aren't gonna provide the money that the rest of the state depends on."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver praised state lawmakers' efforts in the face of dire economic times.

"I think given the economic circumstances that have taken place in this state, we've done the best we can, we've made restorations to various programs in the city as well as the state. Hopefully as time passes and this economy recovers, we'll be able to do better.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said the budget deal looks promising and applauded the potential for a budget that was balanced and on time (only the third time that's happened in more than 25 years).

But DiNapoli said there are some “vulnerabilities” in the framework agreement, including reliance on uncollected taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian lands to balance part of the budget, and a plan to shrink the state prison system by 3,700 beds without naming the actual prisons.

“We need to see the details, we need to see the specifics. And then we need to monitor,” said DiNapoli.

A spokesman from Cuomo's office issued a statement defending the deal saying it includes, "shared sacrifice from communities across the state."

The statement also charged that the city’s Department of Education budget has a $300 million dollar surplus.