Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears to be throwing everything he can think of into the state budget process this year as he faces a multibillion-dollar deficit and difficult changes in federal tax law.
But what he hasn’t thought of, unfortunately for New York’s taxpayers, are cuts to state spending. Maybe it’s an oversight.
If so, we have a modest suggestion: Address this $4.4 billion shortfall first, by chopping some of our bloated state bureaucracy.
If you’re not sure where to start, we suggest the offices of the spokespeople that cling like ticks to the sides of every state agency. These useless employees collect good salaries to avoid calls from reporters and the public, tell people they can’t have the information they’re seeking and serve as a barrier between state agencies and the citizens they are supposed to be serving.
After the spokespeople are excised, tell every state agency it must cut its budget by 10 percent.
We wonder if the governor has seen the movie “Sharknado.” Imagine the sharks as the embodiment of state overspending, Gov. Cuomo, and you the movie’s hero, wielding a chainsaw.
But he isn’t figuring out how to cut expenses, as any reasonable person or business would do when facing an enormous shortfall. He is ginning up a big black cloud of anger and resentment toward the Trump administration for changes in federal tax law.
It is true that one change — capping the deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000 — will fall the hardest on states like New York with high state and local taxes.
One way to respond to that change is to get really mad — “It is crass, it is ugly, it is divisive, it is partisan legislating, it is an economic civil war,” Cuomo said — and to figure out complicated ways to thwart the change.
So the governor has suggested a scheme that would shift payroll taxes on employees to employers, which would require a reduction in employees’ gross pay, but not their take-home pay and state credits to employers and … but need we go on? The complications of this plan boggle the mind.
More appealing is another scheme, also being considered by California, that would encourage charitable giving to the state by offering taxpayers credits for the gifts. The gifts would also be deductible on your federal form, if you itemize.
But left out of these schemes is the whole concept of cost-reduction. Shouldn’t we see if, maybe, in the miles of state office hallways, among the forest of ergonomic chairs and the humming of copy machines, one or two billion in savings can be found?
We’d be much more inclined to endorse complex tax code changes if cost-cutting was done first.
We appreciate Cuomo’s passion when it comes to protecting New Yorkers from the predations of the federal government. But frugality, like charity, starts at home, and we’d like to see Cuomo demonstrate that with this year’s budget.
Post-Star editorials represent the opinion of the Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Robert Forcey, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representatives Carol Merchant and Eric Mondschein.