The newly posted July cash report from the comptroller's office shows that state-funded Medicaid expenditures ran over budget projections by $665 million, or almost 8 percent, through the first four months of the fiscal year. If that pattern continues, the full-year overage would approach $2 billion.
When lawmakers in Albany passed the state budget last spring, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared it “both timely and fiscally responsible.” Timely was true enough. But fiscally responsible? Not so much.
When New York's current state budget was enacted, Governor Andrew Cuomo hailed it as "the broadest and most sweeping" of his tenure, adding that "for the ninth straight year it was both timely and fiscally responsible."
"Timely," yes: budget bills were passed by the Legislature just in time for the April 1 dawn of a new fiscal year.
As for "fiscally responsible"—well, that's more a matter of opinion.
This year's state budget came with a hidden asterisk: In the final throes of his negotiations with legislative leaders, Governor Cuomo quietly postponed a month's worth of Medicaid payments from the last week of March to the first week of April – shifting $1.7 billion in spending from one fiscal year to the next.
E.J. McMahon, research director for the Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative think tank, questioned the need for these projects. His organization found recent SAM allocations paid for projects he deemed frivolous such as a skate park and a local highway garage. “It’s this huge mutual back-scratching,” he said.
The Empire Center for Public Policy earlier this week came out with its regular update on how much New York state government spends on local projects that have little to do with state needs like infrastructure and social programs and more to do with helping local state legislators get re-elected.
Moving the start of the state fiscal year to July 1 and establishing a Legislative Budget Office are among the recommendations of the Empire Center to improve accountability in the budget process.
A new analysis by the Empire State Center for Public Policy examines how the SAM program funded “pork barrel” capital projects across the state in the past year. Lawmakers have voted every year to authorize raising several hundred million dollars in borrowing for the program. Since the program was established in 2013, more than $2 billion in total public debt has been created.