The looming state budget proposal deadline of Tuesday applies pressure to Governor Andrew Cuomo to address the state deficit. Presently, the deficit rests at nearly $6 billion, largely accrued from Medicaid expenditures.
The proposal eventually becomes the state budget taking effect on April 1. However, the proposal only begins a process that goes through hearings, legislative proposals, and additional alterations before becoming the official state budget.
Because the governor holds influence over the budget, policy proposals often accompany it. For example, last year’s proposal from Cuomo included legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. That aspect failed to reach the finish line, however, as disputes arose regarding the allocation of tax revenue. Estimates hovered around $300 million.
Instead, lawmakers decided on reducing criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis.
While the governor called for legalization in this year’s State of the State speech, other budgetary obstacles pose distraction.
From across the state, advocacy groups for everything from mental health programs to schools, drug abuse prevention, environmental preservation, and infrastructure request consideration. Still others call for increased taxes on the state’s millionaire and billionaire residents.
In reply, Gov. Cuomo rejected adding taxes to begin closing the debt gap.
Cuomo has proposed a 1 percent cut to the state’s Medicaid program, which is the nation’s largest, serving a third of New York citizens. His administration also suggested delaying Medicaid payments to assist the strained budget.
Additionally, Cuomo proposed issuing $3 billion in bonds to fund flood reduction efforts and habitat restoration.
The final proposal should be released today, barring delays from Cuomo’s administration.