Months before the coronavirus hit New York, and even with a hot economy fueling growing tax receipts, Governor Andrew Cuomo blew a huge hole in the 2019 state budget. Now he’s whining that the feds, who’ve delivered on virtually everything Andy’s asked for (much of which was his responsibility) must given him money in the form of “unrestricted aid”. Read no strings attached dollars.
With his track record?
As first reported, November 13, 2019, in the NY Post, “Cuomo’s AWOL in saying what he’ll do about New York’s huge Medicaid problem”. The paper issued some ominous warnings.
“The Cuomo administration has admitted there is a “structural imbalance” in its massive Medicaid budget, which means the Empire State’s biggest single government program is spending beyond its means.” They went on to cite that, “with little notice”, $1.7 billion of Medicaid payments due in 2018 were hidden in the 2019 budget. Think mega-bucks shell game.
The paper also pointed out, this has been the ninth straight year Cuomo’s ignored an October 30 statutory deadline for filing a mid-year financial update. It was designed to give “the public a clearer fiscal outlook at the start of New York’s annual budget preparation process.”
On November 22, 2019, those warnings took the form of real dollars. A Post headline blared, “New York state faces $6.1 billion budget hole next year…”. The stunning shortfall came to light only after the above-mentioned report was “released weeks after its legally mandated due date.”
That figure represents 6% of the state’s budget for its agencies and operations.
The overwhelming bulk of the deficit, $4 billion, is linked to a dramatic rise in Medicaid spending. Dave Friedfel of the Citizens Budget Commission, a fiscal watchdog group said, “They failed to present a real plan. He continued, “They’ve known about this for a long time, but the plan they did present is really one part gimmick.” He was referring to hiding almost $2 billion dollars of Medicaid payments in the 2019 fiscal year.
Experts said, “It’s Cuomo’s biggest budget shortfall since he came into office in 2011.” Bill Hammond of the Empire Center was blunt. “He kind of owns this crisis because it’s not driven by the economy, it’s driven by the shortcomings of his own management of the Medicaid program in particular.”
In January, still weeks before COVID was close to having an impact on NY, the governor still had no finalized answers to filling the giant financial hole he’d created.
A quick summary paints an ugly fiscal picture.
In spite of governing during the booming economy, and watching a roaring stock market fill Albany’s deep pockets, super-spender Cuomo managed his state’s “biggest single government program” so terribly, he dumped NYS into $6.1 billion of deep red ink.
Tack all this on to Andrew’s splurging $750 million on a scandal-plagued solar panel scheme, instead of following his medical advisors’ advice and buying 16,000 ventilators needed to deal with a possible pandemic, and we can think of no sane loan underwriter signing off on offering him much of anything. And they certainly wouldn’t hand him the cash without pre-approving its specific use.
If President Trump’s tempted to send any dough Andrew’s way, we can offer this piece of advice. Don’t take New York State as collateral. When Cuomo’s finished, it may not be worth 10 cents on the dollar.