An Assembly reprieve for local reports?

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

spotlight-thumb(1)Based on their just-introduced one-house budget, Assembly Democrats don’t support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to eliminate all required reports by local governments and school districts to state agencies. From a transparency and accountability standpoint, that’s good news for taxpayers and the general public, as explained here.

Much less positively, in the same Article 7 budget bill, Assembly Democrats go along with the governor’s proposal to raid the State Insurance Fund (SIF) for $1.75 billion, which I criticize inthis New York Post op-ed today.

However, while the governor would take the SIF money in several chunks over the next four years, the Assembly wants to take all the money in fiscal 2013-14.  Another difference: the governor would stick $500 million into a capital fund and use another $250 million to finance a debt service reduction next year, while the Assembly would immediately deposit $550 million of SIF cash into the budget’s general fund and the remaining $1.2 billion into the budgetary reserve known as the fiscal stabilization fund. In sum, when it comes to the SIF raid, the main difference between Cuomo and Speaker Sheldon Silver is that Silver wants to be in a position to spend more of the money sooner.

Senate Republicans haven’t yet introduced their own version of a Public Protection and General Government budget bill, which is the measure in which the governor included his reporting language and his SIF raid.*

* At first glance, the Senate version of the same budget bill appears to contain neither the elimination of local reports nor the SIF raid.  This doesn’t mean the Senate majority (Republicans and “independent” Democrats) are not OK with siphoning money from SIF — only that hey have not chosen to include it in their own version of the bill.

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- E.J. McMahon is the Research Director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.