"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have"
Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Comptroller: Budget Not Too Rosey

A Former Assemblyman and current New York State Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, is critical of this year's budget, which is not considerably different from past years while he was in the Democratic majority of Silver's Assembly. In the 43 page report DiNapoli is critical of several areas including the process, state debt and spending.

The report points out that the process of using Joint Conference Committees designed to add transparency and full disclosure to the public failed to perform and budget bills were printed prior to finalizing the budget, thus they provided incomplete information.

His preliminary analysis includes risky revenue initiatives that may not materialize and tax collection projections that may not come to fruition due to the continued weakening economy. The report points out the state continues to spend more money than it takes in, general fund spending, which is the true increase based on taxpayer collections, increased 5.4%.

Taxes collected in New York State are increasing as a percent of the total budgeted receipts, increasing from 42.7% in the 2003-04 year to 53% this year with less coming from the federal government, amplifying that increases in spending in New York State will present an even greater burden on the residents of the state.

DiNapoli identifies out year budget gaps to be as much as $9.5 billion dollars all the while the state is increasing its debt by $11.5 billion dollars adding to existing $53 billion in current debt, making debt service the fastest growing category and correctly points out the state is funding this year’s spending with future tax dollars. At the same time debt is increasing; the investment in long term assets likes bridges, etc is falling short, which essentially means the government is using long term money for short term expenses and that is a recipe for disaster.

Governor Paterson, given the circumstances, did the right thing by passing the budget in an efficient manner and is to be commended for attempting to curb spending of state agencies by 3.35% and by stating he wants to reconvene with legislative leaders to look for ways to cut spending whether it is this year or for next year’s budget. The review from DiNapoli suggests spending cuts should be sooner rather than later.

New York State will consistently have a difficult time attracting business development to New York if they do not even know how to manage their own business of running the government which is evident in their fiscal management.

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