There's good news for people who want to get back to the normal Albany debates of the before times: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration on Monday signaled there isn't a need for "significant" increases in taxes for the state budget this year.
The stance potentially puts Cuomo at odds with Democratic state lawmakers, who have proposed measures to increase taxes on upper income earners and the financial industry that would generate $7 billion.
The budget is expected to pass by the end of next week.
Cuomo's top budget advisor Robert Mujica in a conference call with reporters pointed to more than $5 billion "resources available" that would restore cuts initially planned in the governor's budget plan first released in January.
At the time, the budget took a low-end view of a potential federal stimulus as well as tax revenue. Both sources of revenue have come in higher than that budget anticipated: New York is set to receive $12.5 billion from the federal government, a massive one-shot of money meant to offset revenue losses during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
That funding, in turn, is meant to prevent spending reductions planned for schools, health care and other state-funded programs.
Meanwhile, revenue to the state is recovering at a faster pace than initially projected.
"So you wouldn't require any significant level in tax increases," Mujica said.
Progressives in the state Legislature are likely to disagree, however, as they push for tax rate increases on those earning more than $2 million a year as well as new taxes for financial transactions and second homes in New York City.
It's a revival of the traditional tax hike debate in Albany that was largely absent last year as the state struggled with the early weeks of the pandemic and evaporated tax revenue amid a broad shutdown of the state's economy.
"It is amazing that they found 5 billion dollars just a week after our one house budget passed," said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic conference. "Our position remains the same: we need to ensure all New Yorkers are protected and we can pass a budget that doesn't rely on one shots and austerity but creates long term equity."
Cuomo has, generally, been hesitant to increase taxes on wealthier New Yorkers, though has agreed to budgets and tax rates changes in the past that led to more revenue for state primarily from its richest residents.
This was news the governor wanted to make a conference call with reporters, ostensibly held to provide an update on the latest COVID case and vaccine numbers.
Cuomo said on the call would not answer questions on the multiple allegations of sexual harassment he faces, which has spawned multiple investigations and calls for his resignation.