Reflections on the New York State Budget

For Immediate Release: April 4, 2020

Media Contact: Fern Whyland, Communications Director, whyland@fiscalpolicy.org, 315-436-0558 

 Reflections on the New York State Budget 

(Albany, NY) The process of crafting the FY 2020-2021 State Budget began with warnings of a dire budget shortfall and concluded with efforts to alleviate the fallout caused by an economy brought to a sudden standstill by a global pandemic. Throughout the budget process and the rising projections around revenue losses, FPI has called for public policies based on research and careful analysis that provide a clear path toward creating a more just and equitable state. We will continue our work in partnership with advocates, legislators, and staff, to create the changes necessary in our state. 

Statement from Ron Deutsch, Executive Director, Fiscal Policy Institute:  

“Our state budget process was troubled even before COVID-19. Years of self-imposed austerity under an arbitrary 2% spending cap weakened the state agencies, programs, and institutions that we now need more than ever. It’s past time to rethink how our state budget is crafted and why vital state tax reform is ignored year after year. This budget should be a wake-up call to leaders and all New Yorkers – we can’t do more with less and we can’t sustain cuts that strike our community members who are already suffering the most.” 

Balance the scales 

A just tax system means that the burden is shared equitably. Today, New York’s wealthiest residents and largest corporations avoid shouldering their fair share of tax payments.  Before the pandemic, our state led the nation in income inequality while we suffered through a decade of self-imposed austerity under the state’s self-imposed twopercent spending cap.  The situation is likely to worsen for many New Yorkers as a result of the continued fiscal austerity during one of the worst economic contractions in recent history. New York government as a whole, once again, turned its back on the most vulnerable and missed a real opportunity to generate revenue by asking the wealthiest New Yorkers, earning over $5 million a year to pay a little more in taxes.  Instead, the state decided to make budget cuts where the greatest impact continues to fall on people who are already the most disadvantaged, reinforcing a legacy of bias, discrimination, and unequal opportunity. 

Everyone counts: supporting economic, social and racial fairness 

We all do better when every community member is valued and supported. Affordable housing, access to quality educationhealthcare, and adequate income are non-negotiable necessities for every resident regardless of race, immigration status, ethnicity, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, income or zip code. While the federal government has continued to restrict immigrationcurtail services, and overlook their contributions to our community life and economy, FPI has put our resources to work to be a strong voice in upholding our state’s promise of a better life for all. Now, with historic levels of job losses, our state must ensure that no one falls through the cracks with a strong safety net state tax reforms, and sound public policies. That includes making certain that our state’s census process is complete.

Takeaway: 

Going forward, it is imperative that the governor and state leaders think beyond the continued use of the same austerity budget measures put in place year after year. We cannot afford to let short-term stopgaps and austerity determine our long-term economic trajectory. In the coming months, there will undoubtedly be changes made to the final budget depending on revenue collections and additional federal aid. The Fiscal Policy Institute urges Governor Cuomo and state leaders to work together to craft a better path forward for all New Yorkers. 

The Fiscal Policy Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and education organization committed to improving public policies and private practices to better the economic and social conditions of all. 

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