Statement on the NYS FY2018 Adopted Budget
On behalf of the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC), President Carol Kellermann issued the following statement:
"Last week when New York State adopted emergency extender legislation, CBC affirmed our stance that achieving a fiscally sound budget is more important than an "on time" budget. Unfortunately, we now have neither. Despite fears of substantial cuts in federal aid, the nine-day tardy adopted budget includes excessive spending without needed reforms.
The true rate of spending growth will not be known until the Division of the Budget releases the Enacted Budget Report. Although press releases indicate that state operating spending abides by the Governor's aspirational 2 percent growth cap, the actual growth rate is higher after adjusting for fiscal gimmicks, such as reclassifying expenses.
Education Aid, the second largest item in the budget at $25.8 billion, grows 4.4 percent, more than the statutory cap of 3.9 percent. The budget fails to make necessary reforms to education funding, instead increasing the billions allocated to wealthy districts while underfunding some of the highest-need, lowest-wealth districts.
The adopted budget continues to spend lavishly on economic development without meaningful disclosure or performance standards. It allocates billions in capital funds outside of a meaningful planning process, instead dedicating funds to ad hoc projects and questionable investments, including large pots of unspecified spending that have previously been linked to scandal. The adopted budget does not extend design-build authorization to New York City or for State government outside of specified projects, which could yield considerable savings.
The adopted budget's positive measures include: rational tuition policies for the State University of New York and the City University of New York along with the Excelsior College Scholarships and associated increases in state aid; an improved mechanism to accommodate substantial cuts in federal aid; and continued adherence to Medicaid spending discipline. Finally, state leaders deserve credit for creating a retiree health reserve fund and enabling its regular funding."