New York State is facing a budget deficit of $44.2 billion over the next two-and-a-half years, according to the Paterson administration’s estimates released today, a gap that’s grown by an unfathomable $20 billion in just six months (some context: the budget for the entire the State of New Jersey is $29 billion).
The governor yesterday mentioned some of the daunting new figures–$3.2 billion for the current fiscal year, and a $6.8 billion gap for next year–at a budget meeting with legislative leaders, where they discussed how to tackle the gap for the rest of this year.
But the big new numbers were for the fiscal years starting in April 2011 and 2012: $14.7 billion and $19.5 billion, respectively, revisions that come as the state expects less money coming in from income tax and other taxes, and increased spending.
All of this raises the question of just what is going to happen in Albany this spring, when the legislature must convene to pass a budget by the end of March–with the Democrats coming back with a still-shaky Senate majority, albeit with new leadership. The Paterson administration has been trying to brace the state once again for more pain–comparisons to California by the governor and lieutenant governor Dick Ravitch have been on the rise lately–and, unlike last year, it is not expected that the Obama administration will come to the rescue with another stimulus package.
(Mr. Ravitch, speaking at NYU Wednesday, suggested the administration was considering a major overhaul of the tax system, though he didn’t provide details).
New York, of course, is not the only state with a new shortfall that appeared mid-year. With the recovery apparently happening slower than budget planners had hoped, 25 other states have new deficits that opened up in recent months, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.