It’s fitting that New York’s fiscal year starts April 1, since the annual state budget so often has elements that sound like a bad joke.

For example, did you hear the one about the tax break for luxury yachts?

Or the $400 million “transformative fund” for Long Island?

Or the hundreds of millions of dollars in re-appropriated pork barrel “member items” sought by Assembly Democrats?

Or the unprecedented $5.4 billion cash windfall that, despite urgent transportation and municipal infrastructure needs, was divvied up by Governor Cuomo among a dozen lower-priority initiatives such as $50 million for farm preservation to $1.5 billion for an “upstate revitalization” competition that immediately drew comparison to the Hunger Games?

Or the new commission that will guarantee periodic pay increases for the the governor, the Legislature and other state officials—in perpetuity?

Or the “ethics” provisions, supposedly designed to boost transparency, that were basically secret until a few hours before they were voted on?

Or the “messages of necessity” issued by the governor to allow the Legislature to ram through budget bills practically no one had read in order to deliver an “on-time” budget that, in the end, wasn’t actually on time?

Seriously, there’s no automatic cure for stuff like this. A good deal of it could be chalked up to the inevitable messiness of democracy (or sausage-making).

But there is at least one reform that could give New York a more open, more deliberative budget process. The Empire State should adopt a fiscal year that begins July 1, like those of 46 other states.

Ten weeks (or just eight, after a gubernatorial election) is not enough time to sufficiently air out something as big and complex as the New York State budget.

To be sure, extending the budget-making process by three months also would allow more time for high-pressure lobbying by various special interest groups. One way to deal with that would be to also emulate the 19 states that have biennial budgets, which would mean going through the process only half as often.

Whether it’s done annually or every other year, allowing more time for the Legislature’s consideration of the state budget certainly wouldn’t guarantee better results.

On the other hand, it’s unlikely to make them much worse.

And at the very least, it would take away an excuse for lame jokes.

 

Sign up for email updates from the Empire Center to stay informed with our latest research and analysis.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

‘Like fire through dry grass’

If an impeachment proceeding continues, one likely subject of charges will be the Cuomo administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in nursing homes – about which the impeachment panel has already gathered hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. Based on the public record alone, there is ample evidence of serious wrongdoing. Read More

A Study of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Raises Doubt About New York’s Minimum Staffing Law

A newly published study of COVID-19 in nursing homes links larger numbers of employees to higher rates of infection and death for residents – raising fresh doubts about New York's recently enacted "safe staffing" law. Read More

Rec and Restroom Facility Projects Among Fresh DASNY Pork

A total of $87 million in new grants were steered to 174 local projects over the past ten months by Governor Cuomo’s State Dormitory Authority (DASNY) Read More

Health Research Inc. Turns Over its Payroll Records Despite Claiming To Be Exempt from FOIL

The full payroll records of more than 2,400 de facto state employees are available to the public for the first time after being released by Health Research Inc. Read More

Emergency Billions Pose Opportunity—and Risk—for NYS Schools

New York schools are to post publicly today plans for spending a huge pile of unexpected and unbudgeted cash. Read More

New York’s Medicaid Rolls Kept Pace with a Nationwide Surge During the Pandemic

New York's Medicaid and Child Health Plus programs added three-quarters of a million enrollees during the coronavirus pandemic, roughly matching the pace of a national surge in sign-ups. Read More

A Shadowy Non-Profit that Employs One-Fifth of the New York State Health Department Claims To Be Exempt from FOIL

In another blow to transparency in Albany, a non-profit group closely tied to the state Health Department is refusing to publicly disclose its payroll records under the Freedom of Information Law. (HRI) has funct Read More

Subscribe

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

CONTACT INFORMATION

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

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

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!