Gov. Cuomo loves to brag about his fiscal conservatism, routinely brandishing Power Point slides that show he has kept the growth of state spending at 2 percent or less for what’s now nine straight years. Problem is, that’s only by his accounting — and independent numbers paint a much more troubling picture.
The gov is focused, fairly enough, on state-funded spending, not cash that flows from Washington to fund federal programs. In that light, he says, he again kept the rise in outlays to 2 percent for the new budget year.
But the Citizens Budget Commission (among others) says otherwise. Its latest report adjusts for various fiscal gimmicks, and finds that fiscal year 2020 state spending actually jumps 4.9 percent.
And that follows actual growth rates of 2.8 percent in FY 2018 and 2.5 percent in FY 2017, after six years that (by the CBC’s count) did average 2 percent growth.
In other words, Cuomo has failed to meet his own mark for three straight years now, and the problem’s getting much worse.
The gov can try to conceal this by accounting tricks such as moving some spending off-budget or into future years, but he’s not fooling anyone who’s paying attention.
Yes, things might be worse if Cuomo weren’t at least shooting to meet his cap: The same tricks might have let him report 5 percent spending growth when it was really 9 percent.
But the trend suggests that this governor has met his limit when it comes to restraining New York state’s spending — which was already far too high back when he first took office in 2013.
And if he’s lost control now, the state will be facing major fiscal trouble long before 2022, when Cuomo now says he’ll be running for a fourth term.