Waiting to hear about fiscal responsibility
There were some interesting ideas in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address last Wednesday.
The governor outlined more than a dozen policy initiatives in the address — and a lot of those initiatives come with price tags. A new airport in the Hudson Valley will cost $34 million. The governor is asking for $65 million to fight harmful algal blooms. There is $20 million for a wastewater treatment plant in Niagara Falls, another $100 million to continue the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, $175 million for workforce development grants and $400 million for energy infrastructure.
That’s $794 million in spending for new programs. We’re not saying some of these new programs aren’t good ideas. It is just striking that such a lengthy speech made no specific mention of the projected difference between revenues and expenses that has been the focus of warnings by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for the past few months — most recently this week. DiNapoli has also warned of sluggish tax collections hampering state revenues, which would make it appear the only way to eliminate the budget gap is through spending cuts. Cuomo’s State of the State address not only didn’t mention cuts; it actively threw new money on top of the existing deficit.
We hope the governor’s 2018-19 budget proposal will shine more light on his plan to deal with its budget problems than the State of the State address did. School districts that had fought for years to end the Gap Elimination Adjustment surely won’t want to deal with another aid cut as the state deals with another budget crisis. Municipal officials across the state need to know how much state funding they can budget for the coming year. Nonprofits that are already in the midst of their budget year need to know if they can rely on state program money. Last, but certainly not least, are taxpayers who certainly don’t need a hefty state tax increase.
Cuomo’s State of the State sets many lofty goals. In our opinion, one of those should be fiscal responsibility in the state budget.