Onondaga County leaders will be listening closely to Governor Cuomo’s state of the state address Wednesday to find out how he might address the state’s budget deficit. Priorities laid out in the speech are a strong indicator of the spending plan to be presented to state lawmakers. The state is at least $4 billion in the red, and county legislature chairman Ryan McMahon says the state will have to tighten its belt, hopefully without burdening residents.
"We know they have a budget deficit. What does that do to impact existing programs or aid to municipalities. It'll be interesting to see how the state deals with the gap. Obviously they have a big gap, but they also have a lot more revenue streams, and they support a lot more programs, so they have more flexibility to deal with those types of numbers."
Complicating matters is the impact of the new federal tax law on the state’s bottom line. McMahon says raising taxes or taking other action that impact local governments would not be wise.
"We already have these unfunded mandates like no other counties across the country because New York State pushes down a large piece of the Medicaid burden on us already. So what else they could do to us, I don't know."
McMahon says the state should focus on funding its priorities and avoid all the rest.
"The governor and state legislature have pushed for a very active role for government in many different social issues over the past few years that cost money. The revenues aren't growing as fast as they probably thought, so it'll be interesting to see how they deal with these spending decisions."
While McMahon didn’t mention specifics, some examples might be the paid family leave act that took effect yesterday, and a proposal to ease student debt. That comes on the heels of the excelsior program which makes New York State public universities tuition-free for middle class families. Governor Cuomo delivers his state of the state address Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.