10:16am

Mon November 7, 2011
Politics and Government

Governor's office delays mid-year budget report

Governor Cuomo’s budget office has delayed releasing its mid-year budget report and future financial forecast, citing uncertainties over the European debt crisis and delays in collection of some business taxes, due to two hurricanes that hit the state in late summer.

The governor’s budget office was to have held preliminary hearings on next year’s state spending plan during the first week of November, and issued its mid-year budget report and financial forecast. But the
hearings have been postponed, and the report has been delayed. Governor Cuomo says there’s uncertainty right now in the world financial market, with the on-going Greek and European debt crisis,
and its unknown effect on the US stock market.

In addition, the state costs for two devastating hurricanes that hit New York in late summer have not yet been tallied, says the state budget office. Governor Cuomo estimates total costs at more than a
billion dollars. And the governor granted business affected by flooding from the storms a delay in filing their quarterly state income taxes. Payments due September 15th were not received until
November 1st. So the governor says right now, it’s better to wait a bit.

“There are a number of factors that we’re weighing, there’s significant volatility in the market right now,” said Cuomo. “We want to make sure we have the best information possible, because we’re
going to start to make real decisions based on this information.”

Those decisions include how much to spend on key programs like school aid and health care, the largest portions of the budget.  After Cuomo and the state legislature cut $10 billion dollars in last year’s
budget, they promised they would increase spending on schools and health programs by 4% in the next budget.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says in order to pay for all of that in a worsening economy, the state should extend a temporary income tax surcharge on millionaires that expires at the end of the year.

“The public is clearly with us,” Silver said, referring to polls that consistently show support for the millionaire’s tax.

“Ultimately, after several months of debate, I think that we and the public can win that discussion,” Silver said.

Cuomo is opposed to extending the tax, and says he’s not changing his mind. And he says until all of the budget numbers are in, it’s too early to decide which taxes are going to be needed to come up
with a balanced plan.

“We have a lot of opinions about what should be done,” said Cuomo. “We’re long on opinions. We’re short on facts”.

Cuomo says he’s in the process of gathering what he calls “hard facts”.

“We’re in the middle of that process now,” said Cuomo.

Protesters at the Occupy Albany encampment across the street from the Capitol have expressed outrage about the termination of the millionaire’s tax, even coming to the governor’s reception room to
protest.  The governor , while not mentioning Occupy by name, says he’s seen bigger demonstrations for taxing the rich, during the budget talks last March, when he says “thousands” came to demonstrate.

But Cuomo says ultimately, the demonstrations did not affect his decision to let the tax on the rich expire at the end of December.