Anyone worried about New York’s fiscal health couldn’t have been terribly reassured by the $179 billion budget Gov. Andrew Cuomo rolled out Tuesday.
Cuomo called for no major tax hikes and kept the uptick in state operating costs to 1.9 percent. Good. Yet the plan left many details under wraps. And its broad strokes are themselves hardly comforting.
Start with the budget hole Cuomo needed to close — $7 billion, the Citizens Budget Commission says. The gov would plug that with $2 billion via a higher estimate of tax receipts, $2.5 billion in Medicaid savings and $2.5 billion in other various trims.
Yet he left numerous details about that unanswered, not to mention how he’d deal with mammoth future-year gaps.
And his plan pushes off payment yet again (and possibly permanently) of $1.7 billion in Medicaid bills that were quietly snuck into this year’s budget from the year before — a move experts see as reckless.
He also wants local governments, like New York City, to pick up the tab for Medicaid spending that tops a 3 percent growth cap, even though the state sets most of the basic rules for Medicaid.
Cuomo has until April to hammer out a final plan with the Legislature; expect lawmakers to push for even greater spending.
Finally, the gov yet again plans to ram into a budget deal a host of new laws that have little to do with the budget. As for the one item that needs urgent attention — the bail-reform laws that have put public safety at risk — he didn’t say how he’d fix them.
Yet fixing those “reforms” should come even before a budget deal, as New Yorkers increasingly seem to think: With dangerous suspects being released nearly daily as a result of the reforms, a Siena poll Tuesday found only 37 percent of voters now favor them, down from 55 percent in April.
Alas, the state budget isn’t the only thing New Yorkers have to worry about.
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