ALBANY – The annual analyses of a governor’s state budget performed by the staff experts from the Senate and Assembly are not hot reading for most New Yorkers.
But for those trying to get an understanding of the fiscal picture beyond the filter of the governor’s annual budget documents, they are must-reads.
So budget insiders Thursday took notice of the especially sharp critique of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s new fiscal plan by the financial and legal experts who work for the Senate Republicans.
“The FY 2017 Executive Budget is a tale of two budgets. Once the oratory is stripped away it becomes a document that delivers far less than promised,” begins the 257-page GOP analysis known as the White Book.
The Assembly Democratic staff Thursday released its own analysis, called the Yellow Book, though nearly all of it is a just-the-facts sort of breakout of Cuomo’s $154 billion spending plan.
The Senate GOP analysis raised a new kind of bar. In last year’s report, some of the language was pointed – like claims Cuomo did not treat fairly all areas of the state. But the tone last year was not anything like the Senate GOP analysis that emerged this week.
The Senate leader then was Dean Skelos, since expelled following his corruption conviction. Now, Suffolk County Republican John Flanagan leads the conference. The new leader also has a new top fiscal staffer – Michael Paoli. The co-author of last year’s GOP analysis, Robert Mujica, recently joined Cuomo’s team as his budget division director.
Much of the Senate’s White Book is an array of charts and sections broken down into specific spending and revenue areas.
It is the book’s first three paragraphs that leap out. It notes how Cuomo has proposed $100 billion for infrastructure, but says that a “close examination shows this plan is made up of only approximately $29 million from the state.” Of that, the analysis said, less than half is “actually appropriated and detailed” in Cuomo’s budget and much of that money was already in the pipeline as of last year.
The analysis chides the governor for speaking of the importance of improving the economic climate and his push for big tax cuts. But, the Senate says, only $3 million of the proposed tax breaks will even occur this year; instead, a total of $647 million will be spread over four years. During the same time, the analysis said, the portion of the budget paid for mostly by state taxpayers will grow by $10.7 billion.
“The FY 2017 Executive Budget economic proposals will do little to create the jobs New Yorkers want and deserve,” the Senate GOP book states.
It adds that the Cuomo budget “falls short of its goals,” and that lawmakers are now charged to “refashion and adopt a budget that recognizes the concerns of our taxpayers and meets the legitimate needs of the Empire State.”
The analysis also highlights – in bold typeface – areas of the budget in which it says Cuomo made bold proposals but offered little in the way of specifics.
Of Cuomo’s large, $22.1 billion proposal for road and bridge infrastructure spending, the White Book states: “The source and timing of this funding commitment have not yet been identified, nor have details of the plan, including a project list and commitments by spending category, been provided to the Legislature.”
In a Capitol hallway interview this afternoon, Flanagan said the Senate GOP response over the years has been patterned on what governors, of either party, propose to lawmakers. “If it’s pointed, that’s what we’re supposed to do,” he said of the White Book.
The Cuomo administration had no comment.