Cuomo again late with budget update

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

calendarFor a fifth consecutive year, Governor Andrew Cuomo is late in releasing the required Mid-Year Update to the state Financial Plan.

The governor, who likes to boast of getting budgets adopted before the March 31 end of the fiscal year (which is not required by law), maintained his perfect record of never once meeting the Oct. 30 statutory deadline for filing the latest quarterly financial report, which is supposed to summarize the state’s actual financial experience during the first six months of the year and to update projections for the next four years.

Section 23.4 of the State Finance Law is pretty clear on the point*, but Cuomo routinely has ignored it—without complaint from the Legislature.

Another routinely flouted deadline in the budget process looms Thursday. As explained here:

Under reform legislation passed in January 2007, a “quick start” budget process was instituted to help provide an earlier understanding of the state’s available funding resources. By November 5, the Division of the Budget, the Assembly, the Senate, and the comptroller release detailed forecasts of revenues and expenditures. After a public meeting with the respective staff members of these parties, DOB, the Senate, and the Assembly release a consensus forecast of the state’s financial position by November 15.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli typically has been the  only player in the budget process who filed his revenue estimate on time.

The Mid-Year Update represents a significant milepost in the state’s April 1-March 31 fiscal year. Assuming DOB doesn’t choose to conceal too much, the report can provide an early sense of the state’s ability to hit its revenue and spending targets in the current year, and of trends that will affect the budget for next year.

If the last few years are any guide, when the mid-year report is released, it will add little or nothing in the way of new information to the First Quarterly Update issued in July.

For a second consecutive year, Cuomo’s delay in releasing the number is especially puzzling, because—unlike his father before the 1994 election, or Gov. George Pataki before the 2002 election—he would seem to have nothing to hide. The latest cash report from the comptroller suggests state tax revenues are now hundreds of millions of dollars ahead of target. And since earlier this year, Cuomo has amassed at least $2 billion more in unbudgeted windfall revenues from penalties paid to the state by financial institutions. That’s on top of the $5.4 billion in windfall cash he allocated in the current budget.

* The relevant language reads as follows: 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]

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