The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. How much of that has been spent already, and are revenues continuing to flow in at the surprisingly robust levels last reported?
We don’t know as much as we should. That’s because Governor Cuomo is not fully complying with his obligation under the state Finance Law to issue the First Quarter Financial Plan Update within 30 days of the close of the quarter ending June 30, I.e., July 30th. It’s now more than two weeks late — and counting.
Quarterly financial plan updates are a statutory requirement because the detailed information on spending and revenues keeps budget observers and the public up to date on the state’s fiscal fortunes.
The current tardiness is nothing new; the Cuomo Administration’s financial reporting has been routinely delinquent. Last year the First Quarter Update was released on August 13. And for nine consecutive years Cuomo missed the deadline for the Mid-Year Financial Plan Update, due each year at the end of October. During both fiscal years 2020 and 2013, the Mid-Year report was issued on November 29th – nearly a full month late.
Here’s what’s required by state Finance Law Section 23.4
Quarterly, throughout the fiscal year, the governor shall submit to the comptroller, the chairs of the senate finance and the assembly ways and means committees, within thirty days of the close of the quarter to which it shall pertain, a report which summarizes the actual experience to date and projections for the remaining quarters of the current fiscal year and for each of the next two fiscal years of receipts, disbursements, tax refunds, and repayments of advances presented in forms suitable for comparison with the financial plan submitted pursuant to subdivisions one , four , and five, of section twenty-two of this article and revised in accordance with the provisions of subdivision three of this section. (emphasis added)
As we have noted in the past, former governors Mario Cuomo, George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson generally issued their mid-year reports on schedule or within a day or two of the Oct. 30 deadline.
The staff of the governor’s Division of the Budget (DOB) almost surely compiles the essential data that are the heart of these thick quarterly reports well in advance of the deadline. There’s no good reason for routine, prolonged delays in their release. It’s more a sign of the Cuomo Administration’s disinterest in any transparency that isn’t forcibly compelled (and the Legislature’s apparent disinterest in oversight).
All that makes the timely release of these quarterly financials a good opportunity for Kathy Hochul, once she takes the reins, to deliver the “fully transparent government” she’s promised.