State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo should not take on more debt to close a $6.1 billion budget gap, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said on Monday in an interview with Spectrum News.
At the same time, he wants lawmakers and the governor to address the underlying issues for the gap, stemming from the state’s Medicaid program in the budget and not kick the can down the road.
“We can’t wish it away,” he said. “Some of it will be deferred in the future, but the more we could do to address now in a recurring way, the better we’ll all be.”
As for revenues, DiNapoli added, “I hope they don’t resort to more debt.”
Some lawmakers have floated the possibility of finding ways of raising revenue, with some Democrats in the Legislature suggesting tax hikes on the wealthy — typically people who earn millions of dollars a year — could be an option.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has called a tax rate increase on the rich not the first option for the conference. Cuomo has in the past opposed raising taxes in the budget.
But DiNapoli also acknowledged there are ways of limiting spending, pointing to audits his office has conducted.
“I think we do need to look carefully at the spending level,” he said.
DiNapoli also urged lawmakers to consider bolstering the state’s defenses against a recession and putting more money into the state’s “rainy day” fund.
“I hope that even in the context of a tough budget, debates about spending and revenue and taxes, we really talk about how to better position for when that downturn will come,” he said.