Robert Mujica, the long serving budget director for two governors, is stepping down at the end of the year, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office on Thursday confirmed.
Mujica will lead Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board and will make the transition by the end of the year, Hochul’s office said.
Mujica had been a holdover from the Cuomo administration when Hochul assumed office in August 2021.
“Robert's more than 25 years of service to New York State have been incredibly valuable, and I'm so glad that our neighbors in Puerto Rico will get to benefit from his considerable talents,” Hochul said in a statement. “I am deeply grateful for his help in guiding my Administration through our first budget process, in which we delivered historic wins for communities across New York State and also budgeted prudently, with a record amount in reserves. I will continue to draw on Robert's unique wisdom and expertise for years to come, but he has built a strong Division of the Budget that is full of dedicated public servants, and we'll rely on them as we search for a new budget director."
A source familiar with the discussions said Thursday Mujica's departure had been in the works since September. It's not unusual for high-profile members of an administration to depart after an election. Top officials in the Hochul administration have indicated they will remain in their jobs into next year.
Mujica is departing from the budget director’s post ahead of what could be a more challenging year for the governor and the 213 members of the state Legislature.
There are growing concerns over the global economy amid rising inflation. Tax revenue has remained strong, however, signaling the state may be in a durable position heading into the new year.
The budget is typically proposed by the governor at the start of the new calendar year and expected to pass by the end of March.
Mujica, a former budget advisor to Republicans in the state Senate, is widely regarded as an expert on New York fiscal policy.
But he has also been a lightning rod for progressive advocates, who had prodded the former Cuomo administration to increase taxes on richer New Yorkers and viewed Mujica with suspicion for his background as a Republican aide.
In a statement, Mujica indicated he will help with the final preparations for the new budget proposal to be released in early 2023.
“Being Budget Director is the job of a lifetime, and I have enjoyed the role for longer than anyone has since the Rockefeller Administration," Mujica said in a statement. "I thank Governor Hochul for the opportunity to work with her and everyone at the Division of the Budget for their hard work and great expertise in managing the state’s finances. I have spent more than half my life advising governors, legislative leaders and other government officials in New York on state budget, fiscal and policy issues. New York State is on strong financial footing with record reserves planned over the next several years, and I look forward to helping put together the Executive Budget for 2024 in the days ahead."