Take a look at this picture and tell me if you see the sky falling.
If you read recent press releases and news stories about the State’s financial condition, you might conclude it is.
Most analysts are emphasizing the year-over-year decline in NYS tax collections. While factually correct, and not insignificant in absolute terms (a little over $2.6 billion through November), this fact does not give the clearest statement on the State's overall financial condition.
There you will see that YTD Total Receipts on a State Operating Funds basis not only exceeded the Mid-Year Update by $75.9 million, they also exceeded the update that DOB puts out when the budget is enacted by $33.9 million.
Is it a magnificently sunny day with no clouds on the horizon? Not exactly. On pages 18-19 you see the Statement of Cash Flows- State Operating Funds. In the Disbursements section (page 19), notice that Total Disbursements is $2.3 billion above this period last year, with nearly half of that amount in the Medicaid category.
But the bottom line is illustrated in the graph above. When the budget was adopted, the Division of the Budget (DOB) projected a State Operating Funds Fund Balance of $12.32 billion at the end of November. The actual Fund Balance is $11.97 billion. This is a reduction of $347 million. But that amount represents only 2.8% of the total. In fact, the actual for November is higher than what DOB projected a month ago by $116 million.
It is always prudent to keep our eyes on the sky. We just need to distinguish between an acorn and the heavens.