Last Wednesday, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released his annual analysis of the Governor’s proposed $154.6 billion spending plan for 2016-17. The Comptroller finds that the state’s financial position continues to improve, but his analysis raises concerns about articular aspects of the budget proposal. The Comptroller notes that the Division of Budget projects potential budget deficits of around $2.6 billion annually during the three fiscal years ending in SFY 2019-20, and that the Executive Budget proposes multiyear spending in certain areas (such as the MTA) but provides few details on how these projects will be funded. The analysis also finds that the budget proposal “would increase the Thruway Authority’s dependence on State resources in the coming years, while leaving questions unanswered regarding financing of the Thruway’s long-term capital and operational needs.” With respect to state borrowing, the Comptroller notes that the budget would increase state-supported debt by almost $10 billion dollars over the next five state fiscal years.
We are obviously concerned about the fiscal well-being of the Thruway Authority, which is critically important to the Upstate economy. We are also keeping an eye on how much debt the state is looking to take on, and for what purposes. While there are many things we need to invest in – road and bridges, water and sewer infrastructure, etc. — we have to avoid saddling our children and grandchildren with unnecessary debt and interest costs.