For Cuomo, a Budget Test
Monday, January 21, 2013
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s annual budget presentation is slated for Tuesday. It comes as the State’s Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, finds revenues are not co ming to New York in quite the amount anticipated. In the 2 p.m. presentation, the governor is expected to explain how he’s going to pay for programs announced earlier this month in his State of the State message, including an expanded school day and school year.
Cuomo says he wants to give schools the option to have a longer school day and school year, and he says the state will provide grants to pay for districts who would like to opt in. The governor is expected to increase school aid at a pre agreed upon rate of around 4%, he’s also said he’d like children from disadvantaged homes to have access to all day pre-kindergarten.
Cuomo’s said he does not want to raise taxes to pay for programs and to close a budget deficit of at least one billion dollars. Total costs from Hurricane Sandy are still unknown. The governor’s asked lawmakers to expand casino gambling, which will eventually bring in additional revenue from related taxes and fees.
And while he may not be able to give local governments any additional aid, the Albany Times union reports that Cuomo might ease some costly state-mandated regulations that they are forced to pay for.
The State Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, finds that, three quarters of the way through the current fiscal year, tax collections are more than half a billion dollars lower that what was originally anticipated when the budget passed last April.
DiNapoli says, luckily, the Cuomo administration has kept the lid on spending, so a budget gap already estimated at one billion dollars has not growing significantly yet.
“That’s really what’s kept us in balance,” said DiNapoli. “Although revenue’s been down, spending’s been down as well.”
The Comptroller is more worried about the state’s debt. He says New York has the second highest per capita debt in the nation, when all of the money owed by state government agencies and authorities is added up, and is fast approaching its legal borrowing limit. The Comptroller wants a statutory cap on debt, based on the personal income growth of New Yorkers. DiNapoli would also like to see less back door borrowing, and more debt directly voter approved by voters in a ballot referendum.
There’s no word on whether Cuomo will propose a debt limit cap in his new budget.