Cuomo and The New York State Budget

2 Feb

After presenting his proposed 2011-12 state budget yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took his message to the Internet today to clarify his budget priorities.

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The budget features wide-ranging and deep cuts across state government, including:

  • A 2.7% reduction in total state government spending, the first such cut since the 1990’s.  His $132.9 billion budget is $3.7 billion less than the 2010-11 budget, which was calculated with federal stimulus money included.
  • A 7.3% reduction in state aid to schools, essentially cutting $1.5 billion out of more than $20 billion in annual aid to municipal school districts.
  • A 10% cut in operating funds to the State University of New York, City University of New York, community colleges and private colleges.
  • A 2% decrease in Medicaid spending ($982 million) and $2.85 billion in “gap closing” actions for Medicaid the first year.
  • A layoff of up to 9,800 state workers (if agreements on contract concessions can’t be reached with unions)
  • A 2% cut in direct aid to municipalities
  • A 10% cut in funding for libraries and public broadcasting

There were also proposals to reduce 11 existing state agencies into four, expand lottery hours to generate additional revenue, modernize tax collection procedures to save on costs, and to reduce excess capacity in prisons and youth detention facilities.

Cuomo’s budget proposal came one day after he took to the Op-Ed pages across the state to expose the “sham” of New York’s budget formulas.

“I was shocked to learn that the state’s budget process is a sham that mirrors the deceptive practices I fought to change in the private sector,” said Cuomo, referring to Wall Street abuses he challenged in his previous job as attorney general.

He called for replacing the education and Medicaid formulas that automatically trigger spending increases, which work out to 13 percent this coming year.

“Who is responsible for setting the growth in the state’s budget? The answer is shockingly, no one,” said Cuomo, who nonetheless blamed “special interests” and lobbyists.

If education and Medicaid rose only at the rate of inflation, there would be only a $1 billion deficit.

In layman’s terms, state legislators could claim a 7% cut in Medicaid while still guaranteeing a 6% increase in spending…a sleight of hand in previous years.

When Cuomo was running for office against the laughable and execrable Carl Paladino, we often said that New York has serious problems that needed serious proposals from serious people.  And that is why we supported Andrew Cuomo.  This budget is a declaration that Cuomo indeed has serious proposals to fix our fundamentally flawed state government.  While many of the proposed solutions don’t make me very happy as a liberal, I understand that it’s time to hit the reset button if we’re to make progress.

Cuomo’s budget has drawn criticism from the expected corners, healthcare executives, public unions, etc.   But, he has thus far successfully pulled the Democrats and Republicans together to produce a passable budget.  Not a small task.  He has offered to share the political capital that came with his massive victory and the ensuing capital that will come from an actual reduction of the deficit.

Sharing credit?  Absolving blame?  Focusing on solutions?  Consolidating agencies?  Cutting spending?  Is this New York or does someone need to pinch me?  The budget may not be perfect, but it’s an excellent start.

3 Responses to “Cuomo and The New York State Budget”

  1. Leo Wilson February 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    This is the part where the rubber needs to meet the road. I am frankly skeptical that he can pull it off, and equally as frank in hoping he can. Long, long overdue.

  2. Mike In WNY February 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    While this is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough. Future growing budget deficits are still projected by Cuomo.

    Following the Executive Budget, the projected budget gaps drop to $2.3 billion for 2012-13, $2.5 billion for 2013-14, and $4.4 billion for 2014-15.

    In light of future deficits, this can be viewed as a short-term, stop-gap measure. Deeper cuts in spending must be enacted.

  3. Gabe February 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Looks like Cuomo is showing promise of being an effective technocrat. Though it would be nice is efforts could be expended on solutions more a bit creative than those trendy austerity enemas.

    Like…we could be free of Medicaid bloat forever if the state was to institute a pubic option health care plan available to all NYS residents. Businesses would flock en-masse to our state (are we hearing this right?) if they knew they could actually operate somewhere without the burden of having to provide costly benefit plans to employees. A public option would encourage a lot more people to start their own businesses; people would no longer keep themselves shackled to unfulfilling corporate jobs out of fear of losing their health insurance.

    How could we fund this? Well, in the long run the program should pay for itself. But in the short terms the state could levy a healthy tax upon excessive Wall St. bankster bonuses. Whenever these crooks rake in more money as the rest of the economy falters, we know their is a deep, systemic problem. Graft needs to be taxed into oblivion. Let’s use it to turn NYS from the laughing stock into the racing stock.

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