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New York governor’s budget raises transparency issues: comptroller

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Parts of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s almost $170 billion proposed budget would increase issues about transparency by increasing his management over state spending, the state’s chief fiscal watchdog stated on Wednesday.

These provisions, which might assist the state reply to adjustments in federal funding and coverage by boosting budgetary flexibility, additionally trigger uncertainty about their impact on state businesses, municipalities and nonprofits, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli stated in an evaluation.

“At a time of difficult financial challenges, transparency, accountability and oversight in the use of public dollars are more important than ever,” DiNapoli stated in an announcement.

In January, Cuomo outlined a $168.2 billion budget for fiscal 2019 that switches from an employee-paid tax system to an employer-paid system, doubtlessly easing the elevated tax burden that some state residents will really feel from the brand new federal tax overhaul.

He additionally proposed income will increase, together with deferral of enterprise tax credit, introduction of charges on for-profit well being insurers and addition of an excise tax on opioid producers and distributors.

FILE PHOTO: New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli speaks throughout an interview with Reuters in New York, October 18, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Cuomo would, DiNapoli stated, get ”broad grants of unilateral authority … to handle or reshape the budget,“ ”the “elimination of important checks and balances” and have the ability to use “budget actions that obscure the level and growth of state revenues, spending and obligations.”

In explicit, Cuomo’s budget director might scale back assist to native governments by as much as three p.c to maintain the budget balanced if tax receipts fall greater than $500 million wanting Cuomo’s budget projection. The governor’s workplace alone establishes these projections.

Other measures would additionally broaden language that enables the budget director to chop deliberate spending if sure federal funding to New York is minimize by at the least $850 million, DiNapoli stated.

Cuomo’s workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Cuomo has stated he helps transparency and has made state knowledge obtainable on-line. In December, he signed a invoice that goals to enhance public entry to official paperwork.

However, issues about accountability have clouded his administration, along with his former long-time high aide, Joseph Percoco, presently on trial for corruption.

Percoco is accused of taking bribes from contractors in trade for serving to them take care of the state. Cuomo himself has not been implicated within the case.

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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