Tentative Budget Passed in State Capitol— with an asterisk

By Kathy Kahn

It’s back to the drawing board for NYS State Comptroller Tom Di Napoli as he deals with a tentative budget that doesn’t add up since no one will be paying their taxes this month.

Before Wuhan virus, Chinese flu, novel coronavirus, COVID-19 or anything close to it arrived the first week of March, Gov. Andrew M Cuomo had already proposed his 2020-2021 budget of $178 billion to the NYS Legislature.

But with the virus spreading like wildfire in New York City and making its way up the West of the Hudson, arriving first in Westchester, then in Rockland, Legislators in the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate had no choice but to approve Cuomo’s proposed budget on April 2, 2020 as “tentative” to keep the state from shutting down during the pandemic.

It’s a budget that had raised eyebrows when first introduced but has now become tentatively approved –with room to add another $2.5 Billion in “discretionary funding” and contained cuts to aid in some school districts, the direct result of the explosion of coronavirus cases in New York City and surrounding suburbs. Some mid-Hudson county executives are wondering if his numbers may be a bit skewed – or underreported. Others have problems where outbreaks are high but no cautionary measures being taken as Cuomo did in New Rochelle.

DiNapoli, who has served as NYS Comptroller since first replacing Alan Hevesi in 2006 and going on to win-reelection since then, has already predicted New York State’s $6 Billion deductible nearly double—and the coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed New York City and had reached west side of the Hudson a week after being announced in New York City. The ensuing shutdown of businesses that are deemed non-essential and those that have remained open and had employees sickened—has sent the 2020-21 budget, along with its revenue projections, into the shredder.

Some changes included in as a response to the current pandemic: extending the plastic bag ban till May, 2020 — leaving aid to school districts alone but not increasing funding – and leaving the legal marijuana legislation for another time.

One item that may cost as much as all the signage changes that have gone on during Cuomo’s tenure: adding “E Pluribus Unum” to New York’s Flag and Seal. (That is already on the Seal of the United States of America.)

While many have praised Cuomo’s response to the pandemic—the daily updates, the personal family information he has increasingly shared—have made him a media darling to some. One former New Yorker living In Philadelphia told The Rockland Times, “Whenever he shows up on a show, people ask, ‘What the hell is this guy on TV for all the time?’ Frankly, they’d rather be watching the Pirates or Phillies.”

Whatever the case may be, while people scrambling to file their Federal and State taxes that are now due on July 15 and the state’s extended filing time for businesses, balancing the scales in New York may become another major concern when the pandemic has passed.

For those dealing with crashing websites and e-mail links, it is hoped NYS Unemployment will manage to find a way relatively quickly for those applying for relief through the Federal CARES Act.
Seniors, also take note: If you haven’t filed a tax return because you are receiving Social Security, you will still be included in the CARES ACT distribution of funds to those impacted by the coronavirus-which is everyone.