WXXI Local Stories
Thu November 10, 2011
Budget Report Ten Days Overdue
By Karen DeWitt
Albany, New York – It's been ten days since the mid year financial report was due from Governor Cuomo's budget office. Cuomo says he is waiting until economic uncertainty over the European debt crisis calms down, but some critics say he is violating a state law by delaying the report.
The governor says he's waiting for some uncertainties in the world markets to stabilize before updating the state's financial picture, and has delayed releasing the state's mid year budget report, which was due in late October.
Cuomo budget officials have said they are also waiting to count some tax collections delayed by the hurricanes. They've also post poned some scheduled budget hearings that have been part of an effort in recent years to jump start the budget process.
EJ McMahon, with the conservative think tank The Empire Center, and a former state tax department official, says Cuomo is making excuses. McMahon says there's always economic instability. He says there's a state statute requiring the release of the mid year numbers, 30 days after the half way point in the fiscal year, that should be obeyed.
"Essentially, he's breaking the law," said McMahon. "It's not murder, or anything."
McMahon says in the past, governors have faced worse fiscal challenges, yet still managed to adhere to the mid year reporting deadline including just days after September 11,2001 , when he says "we were virtually at war on our own territory", and in 2008, after Lehman Brothers collapsed.
Cuomo has indicated the numbers, when they are released, will be bleak, compared to earlier predictions. And he says the deficit next year is likely to grow beyond the $2.4 billion dollars originally predicted.
An added pressure, says the Empire Center's McMahon, is that next year's budget essentially promises to increase funding for schools and health care by 4%.
"He's kind of worked himself into a corner," said McMahon.
Meanwhile, the State Comptroller has issued his analysis of the budget at midyear as required by the so-called quick start budget process. Comptroller Tom Di Napoli says there is a current year shortfall but that it "appears manageable", and he agrees with Cuomo that "out year deficits are likely to increase".