AP NEWS

Governor, lawmakers fail to reach consensus on revenues

March 4, 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Starting the year with a multibillion-dollar shortfall will leave New York state with “less and less and less” to spend in the upcoming budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday after he and fellow Democrats controlling the Legislature failed to agree on revenue estimates.

The inability of Cuomo and the Assembly and Senate leadership to reach a consensus means Democratic state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli must come up with a binding estimate by Tuesday. The governor and the leaders of both chambers will use DiNapoli’s revenue estimate as the starting point to negotiate a final budget after the Assembly and Senate release their budget plans this month.

Cuomo has proposed a $175 billion spending plan for the 2019-2020 state fiscal year that begins April 1.

“Legislatures like to spend,” Cuomo said Monday during an interview on public radio’s WAMC in Albany. “The problem is we’re in a fiscal environment where we have less and less and less.”

Last month, the governor and DiNapoli announced tax revenues for the current budget were down $2.3 billion. The Democrats blame much of the shortfall on federal tax changes that started last year. Those changes included a $10,000 cap on federal deductions for state and local taxes, which particularly hurts high-tax states such as New York.

Cuomo has said the cap could prompt wealthy residents to flee New York, contributing to the recent drop in state tax receipts.

After talks between Cuomo administration and legislative budget teams broke up Saturday without a revenue consensus, the governor’s top budget official said signs of a slowing economy are also affecting revenue forecasts.

“While the budget discussion always has differing political priorities and opinions, facts are still facts and numbers are still numbers, and the numbers must govern a legitimate budget,” said Budget Director Robert Mujica, adding that the Senate’s revenue estimate was higher than either the governor’s or the Assembly’s.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, of Yonkers, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, issued a statement over the weekend saying their chambers intend to reach a “fiscally responsible, on time budget that meets our priorities.”

In an interview Monday on public radio’s WCNY, Stewart-Cousins said a few hundred million dollars separated the governor’s revenue estimate and the Legislature’s when Cuomo’s people walked away from the talks.

“So I don’t think there were irreconcilable differences there, but apparently the governor thought so,” she said.

Richard Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesman, said Stewart-Cousins’ contention that the governor walked away from the table is untrue. The deadline for reaching a consensus forecast on revenues had passed, he said.

“We are realistically two weeks away from needing a budget deal to get bills done on time, and we have made no meaningful progress on any substantive matter,” he said in a statement.