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State comptroller shares cautiously optimistic outlook for New York’s finances

A headshot of New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, with two men looking on.
New York NOW

New York’s finances are in a good place, but some areas of the economy are still struggling as the state continues its recovery from the pandemic, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said Monday.

Speaking at a meeting of county officials in Albany, DiNapoli said the state’s job recovery has lagged behind the national average.

“The health of the economy is good and it’s strong, but the recovery is not where we want it to be. It’s uneven,” DiNapoli said. “Certainly New York City, which is often the economic engine for the state, is still struggling. Certain sectors of the economy are still struggling. We haven’t grown back all the jobs that we lost. The national number is about 90% of the jobs have been regained, whereas the state is in the low 70%.”

DiNapoli said federal aid has given New York some financial leeway in the state budget, but that it’s still important to think long-term when it comes to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to allocate funding to reserves.

“Building up reserves is important, but a concern that I have, is a lot of what the governor’s proposing is to keep money kind of on the side in informal reserves. It’s not really the kind of structured, protective reserve that I really think we should be doing,” DiNapoli said. “Build up our statutory reserves, because if we just have kind of a discretionary fund on the side, that money could easily be spent down and not really serve the rainy day purpose that we should all be concerned about.”

While DiNapoli stressed the need to save money, he also said that some legislative priorities are going to require additional funding this year. He said the need for both can be balanced, given the federal aid New York has received.

“New York is always a ‘net giver’ to Washington, but we put out our most recent report, and guess what? For the first time we actually are a net gainer,” DiNapoli said, while acknowledging that most states would see a net gain, because of COVID relief. “But we received $1.59 from every dollar we sent, up from only getting 91 cents back when we last did this report.”

Meanwhile, the state Legislature released their one-house budgets bills over the weekend, which starts the negotiation phase with Hochul’s $216 billion budget proposal. A final budget agreement is due at the end of the month.