New York State lawmakers look likely to miss the deadline to have a new budget in place before the start of the state’s fiscal year on April 1. Last year the budget was approved a week late.
“The governor and Legislature are discussing many important issues as they work to finalize the state budget, but they need to find common ground and resolve them soon,” state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement Friday.
“As we informed the executive and legislative leaders in early March, the budget needs to be passed by end of business on Monday, April 3 for the April 6 institutional payroll to be processed without delay,” he said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled her $227 billion executive budget proposal for fiscal 2024 in February. It was 2.4% higher than the final $220 billion fiscal 2023 budget approved last year.
“In these uncertain times, New Yorkers need a spending plan that supports our state’s continued economic recovery, provides for those in need and still struggling from the pandemic’s impacts, and bolsters reserves to ensure the sustainability of services,” DiNapoli said.
Citizens Budget Commission President Andrew Rein said it was disappointing the budget agreement won’t be reached by the start of the fiscal year.
“Delays diminish New Yorkers’ confidence that their government can fulfill its obligations well,” he said in a statement. “More troubling is the possibility that the final agreement could destabilize the state’s already precarious finances and increase taxes just as outmigration demonstrates the heightened threat that a wide range of New Yorkers could decide to live, work, and conduct business elsewhere.”
DiNapoli noted the impact of a late budget on the state’s personnel.
There are about 57,000 employees on the payroll, which includes employees working at the regional institution facilities for the Department of Corrections, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health and some Department of Health and state Education Department facilities.
He noted the possible payroll holdup wouldn’t affect State University of New York or City University of New York employees, since they have a fiscal year start date of July 1.
“If a final agreement is not reached, lawmakers can pass a budget extender, which is a temporary solution to ensure that state workers on the institutional payroll get paid on April 6,” DiNapoli said.
He noted state law requires the comptroller’s office to withhold salary payments to legislators after March 31 if a budget is not in place, so lawmakers won’t get paid until a final budget is in place.
Rein said more attention needs to be paid to unfunded programs.
“While critical policy issues are being hammered out, little if any attention appears directed to how billions of dollars of added unfunded programs will explode the state’s already significant structural budget gap,” he said. “More unsustainable spending would radically increase the likelihood of massive future service cuts that would hurt New Yorkers.”
He added the final agreement should maximize reserve deposits to protect New Yorkers from economic shocks, boost housing production, restrain spending to stave off massive future cuts, not raise taxes, stabilize the MTA while improving its efficiency, and eschew wasteful subsidies.
“With the agreement, the state should publish basic, multi-year financial plan tables to reveal, rather than hide, the fiscal impacts of the budget. The people deserve to know how their money is being spent,” Rein said.
DiNapoli agreed about disclosure.
“The final budget should also meet high standards of transparency, and I urge lawmakers to reject the proposed changes, which eliminate competitive bidding requirements and oversight by my office of nearly $13 billion in spending,” he said.