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Comptroller notes the good -- and risks -- of Cuomo budget

ALBANY – State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the governor’s budget plan pushes the state to more long-term structural balance and begins “finally reversing the state’s practice of spending more money than it takes in.’’

But the Democratic comptroller noted that Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s budget proposal also includes risks because more than $4 billion in savings, or placeholders as he called them, have yet to be identified.

The concern from DiNapoli comes a week after Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos raised the same issue, and said the budget is difficult for lawmakers to completely analyze since portions involving Medicaid, prison closings and economic development are left vague in the fiscal plan.

DiNapoli said the Cuomo budget “is a solid step’’ for New York to begin living within its means. “But the plan includes more than $4 billion in placeholder savings. Without knowing the details of many of the deficit-closing actions, it is difficult to determine if they will produce the projected savings. With uncertainty comes risk,’’ he warned.

The comptroller noted that personal income tax revenues in the current budget for the fiscal year that ends March 31 is off its projections by more than 6 percent, or $1 billion -– the sixth straight year Albany has been short of income tax receipts. That helps blow holes in the state budget.

The fiscal analysis by the state’s chief budget watchdog said Cuomo’s plan relies less on borrowing “to narrow the general fund gap’’ than past budgets. But there is some, DiNapoli noted, such as $200 million in bonds for capital spending that were planned to be financed with “current resources’’ instead of borrowing.

DiNapoli noted that Cuomo’s 2011 fiscal plan estimates personal income tax revenues will rise 7.4 percent in the coming year, which the comptroller said could “be well above actual growth.”

And the comptroller warned of potentially risky revenue raising ideas, including the reliance by yet another governor on more than $100 million from collections of taxes on Indian retailer cigarette sales.

-- Tom Precious

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

[email protected]


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

[email protected]


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | [email protected]


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | [email protected]

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