New York State ended fiscal 2010 in balance only by delaying $2.9 billion of payments, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reported last week. The state could run out of money by June as a result of pushing those payments into the new fiscal year that began on April 1, he said.

“The state’s finances are very shaky,” DiNapoli said in a press release. “Big bills are piling up, and there may not be enough cash to cover them. We need the governor and the Legislature to agree on a realistic budget that aligns revenue with spending and isn’t a replay of last year’s buy-time budget.”

The largest payment to be delayed was $2.1 billion of school aid. Gov. David Paterson also delayed the payment of $500 million state income tax refunds and a $348 million Medicaid payment. While the Medicaid payment has now been made, the others have not and must be paid in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.

The delayed payments allowed the state to end the fiscal year with a $2.3 billion general fund balance but the Division of Budget projects the fund will end the next four months with a negative balance, a development the comptroller’s office called “unprecedented in New York’s history.” The general fund ended December with a negative cash balance of $577 million.

General fund revenue, including transfers, fell to $52.6 billion in fiscal 2010 from $53.8 billion the previous fiscal year. General fund tax revenue fell to $37.1 billion in the last fiscal year, a $1.2 billion drop.

As lawmakers continued to grapple with a late budget last week, funding for most capital projects remained stalled. Paterson’s fourth emergency spending bill, which runs through May 1 and was proposed last week, did not appropriate state funds for capital spending. Approximately 343 Department of Transportation projects that are locally or federally funded will continue.

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