How big are the fiscal challenges faced by New York State in second half of its 2019 fiscal year? Are tax receipts and spending living up with projections? What's the outlook for the next few years?
We don't know—because, for an eighth consecutive year, Governor Andrew Cuomo has missed the statutory deadline for producing a Mid-Year Financial Plan Update.
“It’s beyond any increase we’ve ever seen,” said E. J. McMahon, the founder of the Empire Center for Public Policy, an Albany think tank that has been critical of state spending and tax policies. “When you put them all together, you’re taking an elevator to the International Space Station.”
As a 19th-century Manhattan politician once observed, “no man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” Some things never change. On balance, New Yorkers would probably be better off if this year’s legislative session ended ahead of its scheduled June 21 adjournment.
"I think the tax cap has induced a sense of complacency," said E.J. McMahon, founder of the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank in Albany. "It’s seen as automatically keeping a fairly tight lid on the levy. But at the first sign of fiscal stress and added pressure for higher taxes, I'd expect turnout to rebound."
As the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon notes this week, the latest budget update puts next year’s gap at $4 billion, up by $500 million just since February.
Long Island voters will weigh in Tuesday on nearly $13 billion in proposed spending for the 2018-19 academic year that affects about 440,000 public school students, in an election season with a focus on security spurred by the February mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“New York’s school districts are receiving record-high levels of aid from Albany to educate fewer students, and our school taxes are still climbing,” said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center.
Nearly half of the 669 school districts are proposing tax levy increases that go right up to the cap, according to an analysis by The Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank. A total of 309 districts are at the cap limit. The center claims this fact is evidence that school districts would have proposed higher levy increases without the cap.