Report State Budget

Options for Budgetary Savings in New York State

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October 17, 2007

The months between September 2007 and adoption of New York State’s next annual budget in March 2008 are a critical juncture in the efforts to “fix Albany.” The process by which that budget is prepared and debated, as well as the substantive decisions it embodies, are critical to the movement for political and fiscal reform in New York State. In order to promote fiscal reform, the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) is convening three agenda-setting conferences for key stakeholders in the state budget process. Each session will focus on one aspect of fiscal reform with a goal of identifying specific changes that are assigned high priority for the coming budget cycle by a wide range of interested parties. The expectation is that the priority measures can begin to be implemented in the course of adopting the fiscal year 2008-09 budget. The first session was held on September 20 at the Rockefeller Institute in Albany: the second will be held on October 17 at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy in New York City, and the third is planned for December 6 in Albany.

The three dimensions of fiscal reform to be considered are:

  1. Greater accountability and transparency in fiscal decision making.
  2. More effective use of State fiscal resources.
  3. More equitable and affordable local tax burdens.

This background paper focuses on the second issue. It has been prepared to inform discussion among the participants at the second CBC agenda setting conference on October 17. The paper is organized into two sections. The first describes the nature of the looming fiscal problem confronting the State of New York. In all but three of the past 11 years, State spending growth exceeded inflation; the current fiscal year 2007-08 budget makes financial commitments for education aid, local property tax rebates, capital investments, and social services that help create large projected future year budget gaps. The second section identifies $5.4 billion in saving initiatives that could be enacted in 2008 and beyond to reduce future budget gaps.