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Senator Calls For Monthly State Budget Updates

School districts and local governments are waiting for updates on the state’s financial condition to better plan their own yearly spending plans.

State Sen. Jennifer Metzger, D-Middletown, has introduced legislation in the state Senate the would require Robert Mujica, the state’s budget director, to provide monthly budget updates to the state Legislature. That update would include a detailed description of revenue shortfalls, spending overages and proposed adjustments to spending or expenses in the 2020-21 state budget.

In April, state legislators passed the state budget with revenues they knew likely wouldn’t be realized, choosing instead to establish four periods during the year when Mujica would examine revenues and spending and make adjustments if the state budget was out of balance. The first such period has seen a report detailing staggering revenue losses, but no firm adjustments to spending other than vague descriptions of cuts to programs that receive state aid. Once Mujica released proposed adjustments the state Legislature would have 10 days to review them and make alternate proposals. Thus far, no adjustments have been proposed, a situation that has meant schools and governments statewide that rely on state aid for programs are passing budgets with no assurance that revenue will be received. Several area school business executives have told school board members they are largely in the dark about the state of education aid.

S.8376, Metzger’s proposal, would amend the state Finance Law to add a new section. Mujica’s updates would be sent to the state Legislature and posted to the state Division of Budget’s website. Mujica would also have to provide a way for the public to make comments and suggestions, and take those comments and suggestions into consideration when making adjustments.

“The state budget affects the lives of New Yorkers in a multitude of ways, providing funds for schools, health care, roads, social services, environmental protection and much more.”

“Given the flexibility granted to the director of the budget to ensure a balanced budget, citizens deserve to have timely information on the fiscal circumstances of the state and the opportunity to weigh in on any proposed budget changes made during the fiscal year. This bill would require the director of the budget to provide monthly fiscal outlook updates to the legislature and the public, and to offer a means for the public to provide comments and suggestions on any proposed budgetary changes, which the director shall take into consideration.

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