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Cuomo administration officials indicate tax increases won’t be needed to balance budget

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  • By Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square contributor/March 22nd, 2021
FILE - NY Robert Mujica
Robert Mujica, budget director for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.Darren McGee / Office of the Governor

(The Center Square) – With just 10 days left before the new fiscal year begins, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his staff told reporters Monday that they have found more than $5 billion in funding to restore cuts the governor’s office initially proposed in its budget.

State Budget Director Rob Mujica said the combination of federal aid from the American Rescue Plan as well as a faster recovery than anticipated led to officials finding the additional resources.

It means more than just restoring cuts as well, Mujica added.

“You wouldn’t require any significant level of tax increases to pay for the restorations,” he said. “So now the conversation needs to go to what additions to the budget we have, and then how you finance those additions.”

Previously, Cuomo had called on the federal government to provide $15 billion in aid in the Rescue Plan or the state would need to enact a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts to balance the budget. The budget plan the administration initially proposed factored in those cuts.

On Monday, Cuomo said that in addition to the Rescue Plan funding and the additional revenues coming into state coffers, more federal money will help New York cover such one-time COVID-19 related expenses as small business relief, rental assistance and unemployment insurance.

What’s left to settle, the governor said, are any new spending items lawmakers propose.

Earlier this month, both the Senate and Assembly have passed their own versions of the budget. Both chambers’ versions include double-digit spending increases and significant tax raises to generate the additional revenue.

They started conference committee sessions last week to reach agreements with the administration on a final version, which must be in place by April 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

“Staffs are meeting 18 hours a day to move forward and to get to an agreement by the end of the month,” he said.

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