National News

Jan 16, 2012 10:42 AM by MICHAEL GORMLEY

Economic view shaky as Cuomo prepares NY budget

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - As Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to present his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, a state financial report shows the boomlet that appeared briefly in the spring has fizzled.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in his quarterly "cash report" that state tax revenues were up 8.6 percent. But that's compared to a low 2010 figure, deeper in the recession, and revenues were much stronger earlier in the year compared to December.
In the first fiscal quarter, revenues were more than $700 million ahead of the same period in 2010, but DiNpaoli and Cuomo warned to expect a bumpy ride the rest of the 2011.
"A stronger recovery has slowed. It hasn't stopped, but it's slower than we'd like," DiNapoli said in an interview. "We are still in a very sluggish period of recovery."
Cuomo will present his 2012-13 budget Tuesday.
Longtime Albany budget analyzer Frank Mauro sees some bright spots. He notes that DiNapoli's report shows revenue, overall, is up, but not as much as projected. He also said that when federal funding factors are accounted for, Medicaid spending is flat, after years of huge increases that drove holes in county budgets.
But the report also shows the pain of cuts in state spending during the recession. School aid is down $134 million for the first nine months of the fiscal year compared to the year before.
"I think this presents a very uncertain future," said Mauro, of the labor-backed Fiscal Policy Institute. "I would say we're still in a very uncertain period. There have been other signs of recovery, that the economy is picking up, but we don't get that from this financial report."
But DiNapoli said the "millionaire tax" adopted by Cuomo and the Legislature in December will boost income tax figures during the last quarter of this fiscal year.
"I think there's reason to have confidence that although we have been below estimates, we are likely to end the year in balance because of the December action," DiNapoli said.

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