Financial Hardship is Coming to NYS. Are Your Elected Officials Ready?
Now will come the fallout of the Coronavirus. New York State is poised to make drastic cuts to programs and localities, but which one? How steep will the cuts be? As a School Board member, you can’t cut education, but I know its on the table. Do you delay capital projects? What about borrowing to close the potential $60B gap? What about cuts to state agencies? Medicaid? You can’t raise taxes when you are one of the highest taxed state in the nation. Where do you start?
These are questions that must be probed and answered by your elected leaders? I’m not here to blame anyone I’m here to help find solutions. Everyone should be bracing for cuts and to their own special interests. Everyone will and should feel the hurt, I learned that lesson by going through a corporate budget presentation when I ran our local TV station in 2009 when it was the height of the recession. The executive kept wanting more cuts because he didn’t think we cut enough. We met his goal but the cuts in expenses were across departments, hence everyone felt the hurt. No one lost their job from our expense cuts and we were proud of that.
Our Governor is now making threats to cut education and cut funding to localities, which he says will cut police and fire departments to get $60B in federal funding. That is not a strategy that’s just a threat. If he literally proposed those cuts and presented it to the legislature he wouldn’t be re-elected when his term is up. So, it’s just an empty threat.
Your elected officials, many of whom, have not managed a business or even worked in the real world will flounder at the prospect of making a tough decision. Each party will have their go to lines for their reason why they can’t act on something. They will literally blame the other party.
If I was Your Assemblyman
Governor Cuomo has talked about wanting to cut education funding by 20% to help balance the budget deficit. This would impact rural and poorer districts the hardest. As your elected leader, if we are looking at cuts to schools, I would look at wealthier districts first. This way a district like Elmira City School District, who gets about 75% of state aid, isn’t impacted by a district who gets 10%-30% aid from NYS. Not all school districts are the same but for some reason NYS treats them all like Westchester County.
What else should be looked at? How about delaying capital projects and move money away from low priority projects. Again, everyone should feel it. Instead of re-imagining education, which I’m not in favor of, what about streamline government services. Let’s look at inefficiencies in the way we do business. Everything should be on the table. How about, you can’t start a new government program without a way to pay for it. A solid plan not another unfunded mandate that will continue to burden local governments.
I know my thinking is not always the right way. I am up for compromise on anything, but an idea must start somewhere. Our mutual goal is to get NYS out of this financial mess from this pandemic.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on ways to close the gap. Leave a comment below.