Report State Budget

Fixing New York State's Fiscal Practices

Five Problems That Hurt New York State and What Can Be Done to Fix Them

Expand Table of Contents
November 09, 2003

This document is focused on five problems that hurt New York State:

  • New Yorkers are the most heavily taxed Americans.
  • New York’s debt burden is among the highest in the nation.
  • New York has large and recurring budget gaps.
  • New York’s budget process lacks timeliness, transparency, and responsibility.
  • Improvements in fiscal practices are hampered by unresponsive governmental institutions.

Many individuals and groups within and outside State government have developed proposals for reform that address these problems. For nearly two decades, the Citizens Budget Commission annually has offered recommendations to contain growth in costs, eliminate badly targeted spending, enact effective limits on debt, and properly align state and local responsibilities. However, the persistence of the problems listed above and the failure of the stakeholders to engage in a meaningful debate about how to change them suggest an underlying problem with the State’s fiscal practices.

Therefore, in considering solutions to the State’s problems, the options identified at the end of this document are related more to how State officials make budget decisions than to what specific annual steps should be taken to close the latest budget gap. By focusing on processes and institutions, the conference can identify a reform agenda that yields enduring progress.

This document provided the background for the Citizens Budget Commission’s conference “Fixing New York State’s Fiscal Practices” on November 13 and 14, 2003. The conference brought together public officials, business and labor leaders, civic leaders, academic experts. and media representatives to identify actions to “fix” the fiscal practices of New York State.

The conference and related materials were made possible by generous support from the New York Community Trust, Rockefeller Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, Cheryl Cohen Effron and Blair Effron, and Philip Milstein.

Download the Report Update

The Palisades Principles Revisited