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Budget watchdog: Cuomo’s plans tally $15.5B in new spending

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers one of

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers one of his state of the state addresses at SUNY Purchase in upstate Purchase on Jan. 10, 2017. Photo Credit: AP

ALBANY

An independent budget watchdog says Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s new spending and borrowing proposals would add as much as $15.5 billion to the state budget and to the state’s debt.

The total is the Citizens Budget Commission’s count of proposals by Cuomo floated as he barnstormed the state last week. The total includes $2 billion to improve the state’s drinking water systems and $120 million to improve the Long Island Rail Road and $40 million for sewer and wastewater treatment improvements on Long Island through state borrowing and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission said, however, that until Cuomo releases his budget to legislators Tuesday, there is no way of telling whether Cuomo would cut other spending to maintain the state’s 2 percent cap in annual spending increases. Cuomo brought the cap to state spending and has hit it each year after state government routinely increased spending by over 5 percent for years.

Further, it’s unclear whether spending on some of the Democrat governor’s initiatives would be phased-in over several years, helping him keep down spending in fiscal 2017-18.

Another key issue for this year’s budget is whether Cuomo will call for renewal of the “millionaires tax,” a surcharge on big earners that brings about $3.7 billion annually to state coffers. It will expire on Dec. 31 unless lawmakers renew it.

The commission notes Cuomo would also have to pay for a projected $3.5 billion deficit at a time when tax revenue is underperforming projections and when he has also promised a record level of school aid.

Cuomo also faces the expected loss of federal aid when the Trump administration ends President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which will force Albany to spend more money to replace the health care coverage for New Yorkers.

Cuomo had no immediate comment. He planned to release details of his 2017-18 budget proposal to the Senate’s majority coalition at noon behind closed doors in the governor’s mansion with other legislators getting briefing through the day.

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