Freeze Non-Essential Programs So Emergency Needs Can Be Met
Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, told The Post-Journal that he expects a state budget extender to be discussed rather than trying to piece together a full state budget in the next 11 days.
Goodell’s thought is a good one.
There is no way, right now, for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state Division of Budget or state legislators to have any clue what the state’s revenues are actually going to be. Even the best estimates are merely guesses. No one knows how far into the future actions taken now to stem the COVID-19 pandemic will affect revenues at both the state and local levels. While state officials are certain there will be increases in spending for the already overbudget Medicaid program, no one knows how much those will be either. No one knows how much federal aid will be available.
Basically, a budget passed now likely won’t be worth the thousands of pages of paper it’s printed on.
State officials also have to be concerned first and foremost with stalling the spread of the coronavirus. This is not the type of budget that should be burdened with discussions of power plant siting, marijuana legalization or other items that are being lumped into the budget. Budget extenders make sense, though extraneous spending should be stripped out. Spending on items like the Downtown Revitalization Initiative or similar items that are nice to have when revenues are pouring in are extravagances. They are not necessary spending. One way to bring spending closer in line with revenues is to freeze all non-essential programs so that emergency needs can be met.