"A quick tribute to the Citizens Budget Commission....you're a great model of public policy institutions like this across the country; no more important time than today for this kind of work." Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner
On January 21 Governor Andrew Cuomo presented a $142.1 billion fiscal year 2015 Executive Budget. One of its the most anticipated features – previewed at the State of the State address two weeks ago – was a projected $2 billion annual surplus beginning in fiscal year 2016-17. This surplus is achieved only if growth in state operating fund spending (total spending excluding capital funds and federal aid) is held at 2 percent or less.
Governor Cuomo has stated the $2 billion in tax cuts he proposed in his State of the State address on January 8 can be paid for with surplus funds that will become available in fiscal year 2016-17 if State Operating Funds disbursements can be held to an annual growth rate of no more than 2 percent and receipts grow as projected. With school aid and Medicaid – the two largest items in the state budget – growing at annual rates at or above 4 percent under separate statutory caps, all other categories of spending, including agency operations, will face offsetting reductions to the plan if the net increase in overall state spending is to be kept to 2 percent.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), a vital component of the health care safety net protecting lower income New Yorkers, faces two significant fiscal challenges in the coming years.
As Governor Cuomo prepares his executive budget, he should seek structral changes that slow down the state's most potent cost-drivers (pensions, school aid and Medicaid), halt additional economic development spending and steer clear of budget tricks. Senior Research Associate Tammy Gamerman pens an op-ed for the New York Post.