A Dire Forecast

This page has been warning of an impending fiscal calamity if the state’s local governments continue to resist needed fiscal reforms. The plight of local governments in California—where pension costs are forcing some local governments to reduce basic services, including police protection—serves as an example of what could easily happen here.

Now state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has weighed in with a frightening but absolutely necessary warning about the condition of local governments in New York. Mr. DiNapoli used a tired but perhaps necessary cliché as he described the impending disaster as a perfect storm of escalating costs especially those related to health and pension benefits and declining tax revenue.

The report was filled with bad news. Three hundred local governments ran a deficit in one or both of the last two fiscal years, and about 100 local governments have very little cash on hand—not enough, the report said, to pay for three-quarters of their liabilities.

And things are actually even worse than the books suggest. Mr. DiNapoli said that local governments routinely employ fiscal trickery to hide the extent of their distress.

Governor Cuomo needs to tell the state’s mayors and county executives that reforms at the statewide level will be undermined if local governments continue to cook the books.