More than a decade ago, the administration of New York Gov. David Paterson was consumed by the global recession and fiscal crisis that spared no one, including the state's main economic engine on Wall Street.
A dozen or so years later, officials and budget analysts have taken away different lessons from Paterson's efforts, and subsequently Andrew Cuomo's budgets, to right the state's fiscal ship.
Now New York is potentially on the doorstep of another economic downturn. The causes are different, but the debate is fundamentally the same: Fiscal hawks are pushing for slower spending and urging against raising taxes; progressives want to maintain a strong social safety net for vulnerable people.
In the middle of this will be Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat elected to a full term whose first budget was flush with cash, thanks to federal pandemic relief and tax hikes on the richest New Yorkers. Hochul has repeatedly insisted she's positioned the state to be ready, pointing to the billions of dollars stuffed away to offset a loss of tax revenue.
"I knew that those could be very short-lived factors, so we put $9 billion aside and didn't spend it last year," Hochul said Monday while in Buffalo.
But is that enough? Peter Warren of the Empire Center does not believe it will be if there is a sharp drop in tax revenue as New York is already on shaky economic ground more than two years since the start of the pandemic.
"Job growth has been anemic," Warren said. "New York lags the rest of the country. It still has not recovered all of the jobs lost during the pandemic and is not expected to for the next few years."
Hochul's office last week released an update on the state budget, a report that showed its economy remained on track despite challenges from inflation. The report was released on a holiday and had missed a legally required deadline.
Warren believes the report may be painting too rosy a picture for a state overly reliant on Wall Street and tax revenue. Prior efforts for a broad-based increase on taxes to ease budget cuts have been deeply unpopular.
New York's taxes have been steadily increased on rich people, a more politically platable option, which has enabled a rise in funding for schools. But opponents have long warned against doing so, arguing an overreliance on wealthy people can lead to them leaving the state and drying up the state's coffers.
"That's already having a negative effect in terms of people leaving the state," Warren said. "We've seen from surveys they're leaving the state and considering leaving the state from high taxes."
But progressives like Michael Kink of Strong Economy for All say New York has the money to help the neediest during a recession.
"The track record shows that the states that maintain an increase in investments in public services and public goods do better," Kink said.
Tax increases on the rich and large companies should be considered to counter any spending reductions on schools and health care.
"We don't have to cut jobs, we don't have to hurt kids," Kink said. "We don't have to take health care away from people that need it."
And some advocates are also calling for expanding tax credits for low-income families who could bare the brunt of a downturn.
"We all know that when consumers have money in this economy they spend it," said Ron Deutsch of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness. "That's good for the economy. We need to make sure low-income New Yorkers have more purchasing power, they have more disposable income."