ALBANY —State officials have not released formal estimates of how much revenue will be available for next year’s spending plan, ignoring a 2007 law that was designed to bring transparency to the budget process.

According to the state’s finance law, revenue and spending estimates were due to be prepared and released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and leaders of the Assembly and Senate before Nov. 5. A public meeting for “jointly reviewing available financial information” was required by Nov. 15.

The Cuomo administration has at times been late in posting some required fiscal reports, but this year there was no meeting at all. More than three weeks after the deadline, only DiNapoli has posted the required estimates.

“The point of the law is to guard against ugly fiscal surprises and minimize delays by forcing the Legislature and governor into the good habit of publicly sharing timely updates on their economic and revenue outlooks early in the budget process,” said E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank. “The Legislature should have been complaining about Governor Cuomo’s persistent tardiness in releasing the mid-year update, and the governor should be complaining about the Legislature’s failure to put out their own numbers.

“Instead, we have this apparent tacit agreement by all of them to simply flout a law that was enacted not too many years ago. It’s yet another sign of the persistent dysfunction in Albany,” McMahon said.

Morris Peters, a spokesman for the Division of the Budget, did not respond to phone and email inquiries about the so-called “Quick Start” process for four days last week. Kerrie Biche, spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, said members of the chamber’s ruling Democratic conference met last week at the Capitol and “will continue to monitor the data.” Maureen Wren, a spokesman for Republicans who control the state Senate, said the reports were no longer needed because fiscal conditions have improved.

“The Quick Start budget forecasts were used to help get the budget process rolling during a time when late budgets were the norm,” Wren wrote. “Over the last several years we have been successful in passing on-time budgets. Senate fiscal staff continue to meet and have discussions with the Executive to refine our forecasts and analyses. We will release these estimates once they are finalized.”

Since taking office in 2011, Cuomo, a Democrat, has presided over four budgets that were passed before the March 31 deadline. This year, voting in the state Assembly stretched a few hours past the technical midnight deadline, but the spending plan was still effectively adopted on time.

Tammy Gamerman, an analyst with the Citizens Budget Commissioner, a non-partisan, business-backed watchdog, said revenue estimates will fluctuate before most of the budgetary work begins next year. Indeed, a mid-year update to the state’s fiscal planshowed lawmakers have a $350 million surplus and are sitting on a $650 million windfall from penalties levied against financial firms. The latter number has already grown by $150 million as a result of another action this week.

“There are other areas of transparency and reporting that are more important than the quick start process,” Gamerman said.

© 2015 Politico New York

You may also like

Policy analyst: Cuomo wrong to write-off nursing home criticism as political conspiracy

“The importance of discussing this and getting the true facts out is to understand what did and didn’t happen so we can learn from it in case this happens again,” Hammond said. Read More

Pandemic, recession don’t bring down school budgets

Stephen T. Watson This year's school elections were delayed and then shifted entirely to voting by mail thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, which also shut down schools here and across the country. District officials worried this new method of Read More

The good, the bad and the ugly in Cuomo’s budget

“We are at the early stages of what shapes up as the biggest state and city fiscal crisis since the Great Depression,” said E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center. “Borrowing and short-term cuts aside, the budget doesn’t chart any clear path out of it.” Read More

Medicaid cuts make the state budget, with some tweaks

Bill Hammond, director of health policy at the conservative-leaning think tank the Empire Center, suggested this is because the proposed cuts are meant to slow the otherwise rapid growth in Medicaid spending, which means an increase is still possible.  Read More

Editorial: Cuomo’s problematic Medicaid maneuvers

“It’s everything that’s wrong with Albany in one ugly deal,” Bill Hammond, a health policy expert at the fiscally conservative Empire Center, told The Times. Read More

Gov. Cuomo’s Lawsuit on Pres. Trump’s Tax Cuts Dismissed

But according to the Empire Center, a non-profit group based in Albany, the overall impact of the Trump tax cuts actually benefited most state residents. Read More

NYS Healthcare Costs Rise Amid Report Of Pay-To-Play Allegations

Earlier this year, another fiscal watchdog group,  The Empire Center, found that  Cuomo’s budget office had delayed a $1.7 billion Medicaid payment from the previous fiscal year into the current fiscal year. Because of the delay, the governor was able to keep within a self imposed 2% yearly spending cap. Read More

After Hospitals’ Donation to New York Democrats, a $140 Million Payout

“It’s everything that’s wrong with Albany in one ugly deal,” said Bill Hammond, a health policy expert at the nonpartisan Empire Center who first noticed the budgetary trick. “The governor was able to unilaterally direct a billion dollars to a major interest group while secretly accepting its campaign cash and papering over a massive deficit in the Medicaid program.” Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!