NYAPRS Note: If Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders conclude that there’s not enough money to make substantive adds beyond the Governor’s proposal, many of our asks will be jeopardized. Even in the bad times, the 3 sides have found extra money but the piece below suggests that this year might be different. Stay tuned!
Cuomo And Lawmakers Need To Agree On Revenue Forecast … Or DiNapoli Makes The Call
By David Lombardo Albany Times Union February 25, 2019
Next week the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo need to decide how much money they’ll have for the upcoming year, a potentially touchy subject with the state facing an unexpected revenue shortfall and Democratic lawmakers campaigning last year on boosting spending.
The meeting of the Joint Revenue Forecasting Conference is scheduled for Thursday, with a consensus forecast required the next day, according to state law. If an agreement can’t be reached by Friday, state law hands the responsibility to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who has to create a state revenue estimate by March 5.
In a statement last week, with the publication of the state’s January cash report, DiNapoli said the revenue picture “is increasingly challenged.” This reflected the concerns he raised earlier in the month during a rare joint appearance with Cuomo, which revealed the revenue projections for the state were worse than expected.
Given the bleak revenue predictions, DiNapoli said in a statement, “We should take an extremely cautious approach when negotiating next year’s budget.”
Traditionally the forecasting conference is a dull affair, with testimony provided by a handful of economists making predictions about the future. The result (at least usually) is a report that anticipates a rosier picture than initially predicted in the governor’s budget proposal, enabling some hard choices to be avoided and pet projects to be funded.
Last year an agreement was reached that revenue would be at least $675 million higher than previously anticipated for a two-year period.
Given what Cuomo has said about the state’s financial picture for 2019 and beyond, it’s hard to imagine state Division of Budget Director Robert Mujica agreeing to a forecast that follows past trends. If the administration does draw a hard line in the sand, it remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to strike a deal on the forecast with Democratic lawmakers.
A failure to agree on a revenue forecast would be a clear indicator of an intense and volatile final month of budget negotiations.