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How to Waste a Windfall

NY Daily News

Every rule of government budgeting — not to mention common sense — says using a one-time windfall to finance ongoing commitments is a very bad idea.

It’s the political equivalent of hitting the lottery for $1,000, then rushing to put a down payment on a Ferrari.

So it was disturbing that Gov. Cuomo — when asked how he would spend an unprecedented $4.2 billion in legal settlements flowing into state coffers this year — threw out the following list of options:

“We could do more infrastructure, we could do more to invest in education and we could do more to cut taxes.”

Sorry, gov, but two of those things are not like the others.

Investing the influx into infrastructure — that is, roads, bridges and other capital projects that cost a lot up front while providing benefits for decades to come — is sound practice. So is using the money to retire some of the state’s $56 billion in long-term debt.

But using temporary money to permanently boost education spending or cut taxes is exactly the kind of thing that Cuomo, normally a voice of fiscal sanity, should be ruling out.