Despite Projected Budget Gap, Cuomo Seeking Tax Cuts

Nov 8, 2013

Now that elections are over, deadlines for the state budget are rapidly approaching. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has released a largely positive budget outlook for the New Year, though he warns of some uncertainties.

Under reforms adopted a few years ago, state officials including the Comptroller, are required to start the budget process, which ends in late march, even earlier.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is out with his report, and he says the state budget is largely in balance.

“The economy is in a recovery mode,” said DiNapoli. “It’s a slow and tentative recovery but we benefit from that.”

But the Comptroller says there’s a lot of uncertainty out there, including the continued instability in Washington that led to the partial government shutdown in October.

Governor Cuomo’s budget office, in its mid year report, projects structural gaps of $1.7 billion dollars in the new budget, growing to nearly $3 billion dollars in 2016, if nothing is done to curb spending.

The governor’s budget report also cites uncertainties, including possible higher interest rates, and the impacts of  weak job growth .

Despite that, Governor Cuomo has said he thinks there will still be money for tax cuts in the New Year. He says he’s held the line on spending for the past three years.

“The economy is starting to pick up,” said Cuomo. “We’re in a position now to do additional tax cuts.”

Cuomo has created two tax commissions. One is  co chaired by former Governor George Pataki, and will look at cutting property taxes, which in New York are among the highest in the nation .

“We have to get that property tax down,” Cuomo said. “That’s what’s chasing people from this state, It’s chasing business from this state.”

New York State doesn’t collect property taxes, so a reduction in property taxes would not impact the state budget. Local governments and school districts DO depend on property taxes for their budgets.  

The head of the state’s teacher’s union, New York State United Teachers’ Richard Iannuzzi says he hopes the tax cuts don’t come at the expense of schools. And he says he’s a little “concerned” about the governor’s tax cutting commissions.

“I would prefer they focus on issues of equity,” Iannuzzi said.

Iannuzzi says poverty is a growing problem in New York.

Comptroller DiNapoli, who has remained neutral on the topic of tax cuts, says the numbers have to “add up”.

“If you want to propose tax cuts and there’s not a windfall of revenue  to accommodate that, then that means you have to do cuts on the spending side,” DiNapoli said.

But he says he’ll wait and see what the governor’s tax commission actually says.