And … there it is.
As if you didn’t see this coming a mile away, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday confirmed what we’d suspected all along.
Even with a federal bailout under the new Biden administration, New Yorkers’ high taxes will go even higher next year.
“I believe there’s going to be a tax increase and I believe a lot of tough decisions will be made,” the governor said.
Yes, you can put blame for the current emergency state of New York’s economic woes on the coronavirus. With businesses shut down, employees laid off and sales and income tax revenue down significantly as a result, there was no doubt state finances would be affected.
But New York’s financial problems didn’t start with the covid crisis. The state government has been spending itself toward this situation for years, with no plan whatsoever to deal with an economic downturn, much less one so devastating as the one created by covid.
Yet the governor and our elected members of the state Legislature have done virtually nothing this year to adjust the state’s spending to soften the financial blow of the pandemic on taxpayers in the event of a Trump victory and any decision by Congress not to provide financial relief to help prop up state budgets.
It’s like you buying a yacht and a mansion you can’t afford, then hoping your rich uncle kicks the bucket and leaves you a big inheritance so you can keep them.
It’s not exactly sound financial planning.
But it’s how New York has approached this situation.
There were no sweeping proposals to work with unions on concessions on pay or benefits. No canceling of wasteful economic development initiatives. No attempts to relieve local governments of unnecessary state mandates that drive up local property taxes. No statement about restructuring priorities. No viable proposals to change laws and policies that drive up costs in New York.
Now, with the state budget deadline less than four months away and the Legislature not scheduled to reconvene before the new year, lawmakers have a very short window to adapt to the new reality.
If they’re interested in holding the line on a large tax increase, they’ll get busy and look for places to cut spending.
But honestly, if you think that after wasting the last nine months, they’re suddenly going to go in and trim the fat and make serious cost-cutting decisions to lower the budget deficit and hold the line on raising taxes, you haven’t lived in this state very long.
We saw this coming during the past several months of inaction and finger-crossing. The governor essentially confirmed that on Wednesday.
Happy New Year, New York.