New York’s new budget is all about denial

Seen in the cold light of day, New York’s new so-called state budget is nothing but page after page of denial, mixed with business-as-usual. Boy, did lawmakers fail to rise to the occasion.

It wasn’t “a normal budget,” complained Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, “not even the budget we envisioned a month ago.” Of course not: The state economy has tanked thanks to the coronavirus.

The budget outlines $177 billion in spending — just a billion less than Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed pre-crisis, despite revenues collapsing by at least $15 billion. The Legislature even pushed Cuomo into dropping much of his Medicaid savings.

Yes, lawmakers gave Cuomo’s budget director the power to slash spending as needed starting next month. But it plainly will be necessary. As Maria Doulis of the Citizens Budget Commission put it, they “passed something akin to a wish list and punted to the state budget director to figure out what can and should happen later.”

Thus, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie crowed about a supposed $18.4 billion investment in higher education — but there’s no way those outlays will actually happen.

Lawmakers handed the gov an $11 billion credit card to maybe avert some cuts — even as they failed to end handouts to Hollywood and Cuomo’s insanely wasteful “economic development” slush funds. Way to prioritize, folks.

They couldn’t resist such non-urgent measures as outlawing polystyrene food containers as well an even-more-permanent ban on fracking for oil and natural gas.

The one saving grace is that Cuomo & Co. didn’t raise taxes as New York heads into recession. But if the same crew is running the Legislature after this fall’s elections, you can bet it’ll be their first resort next year.

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