budget surplus

State lawmakers say they want to act quickly to spend the state’s growing $5 billion surplus on an infrastructure fund to fix up roads and bridges, among other things. At a think tank sponsored conference on the state’s infrastructure, participants said there are deep needs and they warn lawmakers not to spend the money frivolously.  

The New York State Educational Conference Board says now that the economy is improving and the state has a multi-billion dollar surplus, it’s time to end years of what they say is underspending on New York’s schools.

The board is made up of the state’s teachers, school boards, superintendents and the PTA, among others. They agree school spending must increase significantly in the new year. Chairman John Yagielski says the groups want an additional $1.9 billion for the 2015-16 school year.

New York state will begin 2015 with the largest one-time windfall budget surplus since the end of World War II, due to settlements with major banks after the financial crisis. Fiscal watchdog groups are warning lawmakers not to go crazy with ideas for how to spend it.

The settlements from Bank of America, PricewaterhouseCoopers and other financial institutions have netted the state $5.1 billion in settlements over alleged misconduct during the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.

For the first time in several years, New York state has a surplus of between $3 billion and $4 billion. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s still looking at options on how best to use it.

The state has recently been the beneficiary of a windfall from major lawsuit settlements with several banks and insurance companies. After years of running a debt or breaking even, Cuomo says New York now has more than $4 billion additional dollars.

The governor says he’s still thinking about the best use for the money.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been taking credit for a $2 billion budget surplus in his new spending plan. But critics say that claim is not entirely accurate because the windfall does not actually materialize for another two years, and only if certain conditions are met.

Cuomo is fond of comparing the differences in the state’s finances since taking office three years ago.