Last week, an item was posted here about Governor Paterson’s somewhat puzzling announcement implying (seemingly) that his 2011-12 budget would result in a $1 billion surplus that he would use to finance a property tax circuit breaker. “If the governor is saying that the four-year financial plan to be issued with his 2010-11 Executive Budget next week will make up for lost stimulus money, wipe out the entire projected gap and hold recurring spending a full $1 billion below recurring revenues in 2011-12, that’s really something to celebrate,” I wrote.
I should have read the fine print: Paterson’s original release said the surplus would be a product of his proposed tax cut “if enacted.” Of course, the spending cap has not been enacted (not that it would make a difference). And sure enough, the governor’s newly released 2010-11 Executive Budget does not, in fact, point to a surplus as soon as the year after next. Quite the contrary: if enacted in its entirety, Paterson’s budget will leave the next governor facing a 2012-13 budget gap of $6.3 billion, which will grow to $10.5 billion in 2012-13 and $12.3 billion in 2013-14.
But the next governor, like the current one, will have the power to enforce a spending cap through use of the constitutional line-item veto. Just in case Paterson is really interested in the concept.