Last week, we had Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele on to talk about the budget. The Governor had just released her budget, purporting to close a roughly $6 Billion deficit. In mid to late January, however, according to press reports (literally, every outlet that reported on the budget) the administration had estimated the budget to be roughly $8 Billion. Here is the exchange (all quotes from previous comments omitted for space):
27 Gabe // Feb 5, 2009 at 3:56 pm · delete
Hi Lt. Governor,
Thanks for joining us!
In mid-January, the Governor’s office set the projected 2010-2011 budget deficit at $8 Billion.
The budget released yesterday seems to assume only a $6 Billion shortfall in 2010-2011.
Did anything happen in the last two weeks to explain the difference? If not, why the discrepancy?
31 Lt. Governor Michael Fedele // Feb 5, 2009 at 3:59 pm · delete
I don’t believe that it was the Gov’s office that issued that number. I believe that it was OFA (Office of Fiscal Analysis) that is a legislative reporting agency. Also the Gov’s budget agency is OPM (oofice of Policy & MGMT).
36 Gabe // Feb 5, 2009 at 4:03 pm · delete
With due respect, I do not believe that is correct. According to the JI:
By mid-January, the Rell budget office had increased this year’s deficit to $922 million. More important, it estimated, without giving precise numbers, that the built-in shortfalls for 2010 and 2011 now approached a combined $8 billion, rather than $6 billion.
So I re-assert my question:
43 Lt. Governor Michael Fedele // Feb 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm · delete
I’m not aware of the JI article. You can’t believe everything you read in the papers. I stand by my prior reply.
That got me curious about what exactly caused every member of the press to report that the administration was expecting a roughly $8 Billion deficit. Here is the reason: Apparently, you can’t believe everything you hear from an administration official at a press conference (mms link, wmv file – will open a separate application) (question at ~7:43 in, below quote starts at ~8:00) (VIDEO UPDATE h/t to tparty):
OMB Secretary Robert Genuario: While we have not completed our analysis… I think you can start with the assumption that the base is a billion dollars lower and that will translate into diminished revenue in that approximate area in each of the next fiscal years.
Q: So 8, as opposed to what was- were saying 6 for the next 2 years…
Secretary Genuario: I think its fair to say that we will be closer to 8 than to 6.
So there you go, the source of the multiple stories was Rell’s OBM Secretary and not the OFA as Lt. Gov. Fedele asserted in the live blog (or media trickery, as he implied).
By the way, I think I have the hang of this whole budgeting thing! It turns out, its easier to close a shortfall if you close it first, and then decide how big it is. Magic!