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DiNapoli raises concerns over Cuomo's budget plan

By THOMAS ADAMS - 2/13/2013 3:08:55 PM

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget increases the state’s debt, and is balanced with temporary revenues, uncertain federal aid and possibly overly optimistic economic projections, a report from the state comptroller says.

“New York’s fiscal challenges are significant for the foreseeable future,” Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement Wednesday. “In the face of a challenging economy, this budget appropriately restrains spending.

“However, it includes risks on both the spending and revenue sides of the ledger. It increases our debt burden and relies on temporary actions that will get us through short-term problems but pushes off some hard choices for another day.”

Provisions of Cuomo’s proposed 2013-14 budget should be openly discussed by the state Legislature so taxpayers know how resources are being used, DiNapoli said.

The economic projections include 4.6 percent growth in wages and salaries in 2013, and employment growth of 1.3 percent. Those numbers are more optimistic than some economic forecasts, DiNapoli said.

The budget assumes an increase of 6.6 percent in personal income tax collection, a level that has not been achieved in recent years, he said. It also includes revenues such as $175 million in proceeds from a not-for-profit health insurance company conversion and $133 million from Indian casinos that might not materialize.

A potential loss of federal aid associated with Medicaid funding of services for the developmentally disabled and federal deficit-reduction negotiations are not addressed in the Cuomo budget, DiNapoli said.

The budget includes expanded issuance of debt through public authorities by creating a bond financing program backed by sales-tax revenue, which would increase New York’s dependence on “back-door borrowing” rather than through bond act proposals brought before voters, DiNapoli said.

“At a time when New York’s debt capacity is shrinking rapidly, this budget increases public authority borrowing authorizations by at least $3.3 billion,” he said. “We need more effective debt reform that gives taxpayers a voice in balancing the costs and benefits of any new borrowing.”

In a news conference later Wednesday, Cuomo budget director Robert Megma disputed the report's findings.

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