Nothing too egregious about this press release from Senator Joseph Zarelli about the budget forecast being tighter than we’d thought, but this was a bit off.
I would have been more comfortable leaving an even larger amount in reserve, but reaching this new budget agreement required a number of compromises, and the size of the ending fund balance was one. Our side figured the June forecast would be down significantly, just like the March forecast was, which is why we insisted on policy reforms that will save money going forward, and made sure this new budget was the first one since 1997 to spend less than anticipated revenue.
If he was that interested in having a larger reserve, he might have considered raising taxes. Yes, there was a 2/3 requirement, but if the chief Republican budget negotiator in the state senate had decided to push for higher taxes, it would have done a lot. So it seems like the things that made him most comfortable were (a) passing a budget since it was a special session, and all the legislators just wanted to go home already, (b) no tax increases, (c) having a reserve. Although (a) and (b) may not be in that order.