A $2 billion surplus is possible should the state stick to a 2 percent spending cap in the upcoming budget due to be approved by April 1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview on Thursday.
Cuomo, who plans to push for a tax cut next year, has said in the past that there is an “essence of a surplus” in the upcoming budget.
But in an interview with WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom, Cuomo pegged that surplus for the first time at the estimated $2 billion figure.
A tax commission co-led by former Gov. George Pataki and ex-Comptroller Carl McCall recommended about $2 billion in cuts over the next several years, including a two-year property tax freeze.
“There will be about a two billion dollar surplus. If you don’t stick to the 2 percent, the surplus won’t exist,” Cuomo said.
The last three state budgets have stuck to a voluntary 2 percent cap on spending increases. The state Division of Budget projects a $1.74 billion deficit if planned spending increases take effect.
Cuomo also brushed off questions as to whether the extra money should be used to provide more funding for areas like education, which is sure to be pushed for by lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session.
The governor insisted education spending — one of the costliest items the state pays for next to health care — will be increasing anyway.
“In that 2 percent you would probably have about a 4 percent increase in education funding,” Cuomo said. “Four percent in this environment is a lot of money. Nothing is going up 4 percent.”
He also pushed back against the criticism from the right and the left on the tax commission report, saying the issue is polarizing for interest groups who either want deeper cuts for businesses or increases in taxes on the wealthy.
“When you say taxes it is binary. You have people who always want to raise taxes, people who always want to lower taxes,” Cuomo said. “It’s Yankees or Boston Red Sox. You get strong opinions and they won’t change.”
He added, “We want to be smart and wise and prudent and we would be investing. We have also learned in this state that more money does not necessarily mean more help for everyone.”