New York State's failure to approve a budget for fiscal 1995 may have scuttled possibilities for an upgrade in the state's bond rating, state officials said yesterday.
Drew Zambelli, secretary to New York State Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, said in a press conference that Wall Street bond raters are not pleased with the state's inability to adopt a budget for fiscal 1995, which began April 1.
Zambelli said the delay, caused by haggling over the size of tax cuts and the use of a $1 billion fiscal 1994 surplus, may cost the state an upgrade on its bond rating.
Zambelli's remarks were made as Cuomo announced a "compromise" budget designed to bring together leaders from the state Assembly and Senate, who have yet to agree on a tax reduction program and other spending items.
The continued delay, as well as concern that the budget will ultimately produce tax reductions that will lead to future budget gaps, is starting to make Wall Street bond raters nervous, Zambelli said.
"We're at the threshold of getting an upgrade," Zambelli said during a press conference. "And this will not help."
At the moment, the state is rated A-plus by Fitch Investors Service, A by Moody's Investors Service, and A-minus by Standard & Poor's Corp.
Several Wall Street bond analysts said the state in fiscal 1995 was poised to receive an upgrade from Standard & Poor's, which placed its rating of New York on "positive outlook."
But the delay in adopting the state's fiscal 1995 budget has not helped matters with the ratings company.
Vladimir Stadnyk, a managing director at Standard & Poor's, said the delay shows a "lack of fiscal discipline."
Stadnyk said, however, that the delay by itself does not rule out an upgrade. Instead, the state's credit future will be determined by the quality of its fiscal 1995 budget, he said.
Stadnyk said the rating agency is keeping an eye on the affordability of planned tax cuts called for by both houses of the legislature, as well as by Cuomo.
"I'm sitting here saying, ~They're all at the cashier's window right now,' and I don't know if that makes me comfortable or not," Stadnyk said.