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March 07, 2015

NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli releases report on 30-day State Budget amendments


NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli releases report on 30-day state budget amendments
Source: Office of the State Comptroller

Amendments to the proposed state budget appropriately lower tax collection estimates in the Financial Plan for state fiscal year 2014-15 but increase the Executive’s discretion over spending, including $4.55 billion from financial settlements, and attach major policy issues to time-limited appropriations, according to an analysis released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. [Click on “analysis” to access the Comptroller’s Executive Summary and Overview of the 30-day budget amendments.]

“Several of the amendments give the Executive great latitude in spending,” DiNapoli said. “And while particular substantive proposals may be worthy, attaching them to spending bills that expire within two years or less may not be the best way to consider the merits.”

The 30-day amendments add language directly to appropriation bills for a variety of policy purposes including evaluation of teachers and principals, a proposed education tax credit program, extension of tuition assistance to certain undocumented immigrants, certain personal financial and other disclosures by state legislators, and reimbursement of travel and related expenses by state elected officials. 

Other areas where policy initiatives have been added to appropriations include Medicaid and authorization for the state to use design-build procurements.

The 30-day amendments also eliminate proposed separate appropriations from a new Dedicated Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF), advanced by the Executive to allocate certain financial settlement funds, and instead add $4.55 billion to existing appropriations at the Department of Health (DOH), the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), allocating these appropriations through percentage shares.

With the exception of the health care funding, that spending would be subject to approval of the director of the Division of the Budget (DOB) and could be used for costs incurred before April 1, 2015. The money could also be transferred to any state agency or public authority for the purposes described. As a result, oversight measures, checks and balances, and spending reviews could be bypassed,

DiNapoli reports that DOB has also modified projections made in the SFY 2014-15 third quarter financial plan update included with the Executive Budget. These adjustments primarily address a shortfall in tax revenues relative to the most recent projections, reducing General Fund tax receipts by $355 million. The report finds that while overall estimates in the current year have been reduced downward, projections for SFY 2015-16 remain the same, resulting in continued risks associated with the revised estimates. The revenue consensus between the Executive and the Legislature further increased projected revenues by $200 million. The report found that based on certain economic projections and actual tax collection results to date, the revised revenue projections may be optimistic,


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