The looming repeal of the Affordable Care Act – which suddenly became much more likely with the election of Donald Trump – could open an enormous hole in New York’s state budget.
Albany’s practice of doling out millions in “bullet aid” to certain school districts at the behest of favored legislators has become a familiar ritual of pork-barrel politics. But a little-noticed provision of this year’s budget directs $30 million to a single nursing home in the Bronx, which is unusual even by the standards of New York State government.
New York's new state budget includes the biggest permanent "middle class" income tax cut in 20 years. Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature can pay for it by restraining spending and enacting more tax reform.
New York’s $156 billion budget, enacted on April 1, authorizes the state to spend $4,947 per second during its 2016-17 fiscal year, according to the Empire Center’s updated Spend-O-Meter.
Now that the state has enacted its biggest personal income tax cut since the mid-1990s, a prime task facing Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature next year will be figuring out how to accommodate the tax cut in future budgets.
The change from a credit to a rebate check is more aimed at helping the state's ledger to pay for new spending in the state budget, such as a $1 billion income-tax cut, said E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center, an Albany-based conservative think tank.
"Every year, it’s actually going to steadily erode the apparent cost of STAR because every year, as houses change hands, more and more of STAR will shift from the spending side to the revenue side of the budget," he said.
The state budget will fund other projects that members of the Legislature undoubtedly will tout at some point. The Empire Center, a fiscally conservative Albany think tank, highlighted on Friday a $385 million increase to the State and Municipal Facilities Program, a pot of general capital project funding that is derided by critics as being opaque and overly broad in terms of the types of projects can be funded.
"When you say what's the local impact? My answer is I have no idea," the Empire Center's E.J. McMahon said. "It's not programmed. It's capital pork."
The budget adopted by New York’s Legislature last week was described by Gov. Cuomo as “the best plan that the state has produced . . . in decades, literally.”
If this is truly the “best” New York can do, we’re in even more trouble than we thought.