New York

State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

With its 94.5 percent pension funded ratio as of 2017, New York exceeded the overall level for states by about 26 percentage points. Only Wisconsin and South Dakota, with fully funded pensions, were in better shape. New York has been able to keep its ratio high by making its actuarially determined contribution for current and promised benefits each year. 

Despite its record on pensions, New York garnered only a B average in legacy costs for fiscal 2016 through 2018 because it failed to fully fund its obligations for other postemployment benefits, chiefly health care. The unfunded actuarial accrued liability as of fiscal 2018 was $90.5 billion, including $72.8 billion for the state and $17.7 billion for the State University of New York. 

The state scored even lower in budget maneuvers, receiving a D average, the second-lowest mark possible. Its deferral of recurring expenditures in 2018 contributed to the grade. The state borrowed $215 million from the New York Power Authority, a state-owned agency, in March 2009 and was supposed to repay the loan by September 30, 2017. But in fiscal 2017, it extended the payment plan to fiscal 2023. New York also borrowed $103 million from the authority in September 2009, with repayment scheduled by September 30, 2014. That was similarly extended, to installments stretching from fiscal 2015 to 2019.

In contrast, New York averaged a top mark of A in budget forecasting. It uses consensus revenue estimating, makes multiyear forecasts of revenues and expenditures, and produces clear explanations of the reasoning behind estimates of revenue growth. It received Bs in the reserve funds and transparency categories.

Download Printable State Report Card

To emphasize the need for clear and comprehensible budgets to inform citizens, promote responsible policymaking, and improve fiscal stability, the Volcker Alliance in 2016 began a study of budgetary and financial reporting practices of all fifty states. The Volcker Alliance’s mission is to improve the effectiveness of the administration of government at all levels. Making state budgeting more transparent and accountable is an important part of that goal.

The report cards presented here are taken from the 2018 Volcker Alliance report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: Preventing the Next Fiscal Crisis which proposes a set of best practices for policymakers. For those wishing to gain greater insight into state fiscal issues, the accompanying budget resource guide is derived from the Alliance publication State Budget Sources: An Annotated Guide to State Budgets, Financial Reports, and Fiscal Analyses (2016). 

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