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DiNapoli: Praise, warning on Cuomo budget

ALBANY — State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal as a continued plan for fiscal restraint, but warned that the governor also wants to use the budget to grab power and reduce public oversight and accountability in the spending of billions of taxpayer dollars.

The state’s top fiscal officer said Tuesday his analysis of the proposal now being negotiated with the Legislature would cut future deficits in half, to $7.4 billion through the 2015-16 fiscal year. That’s far smaller than recent deficits. A year ago, Cuomo and the Legislature closed a $10 billion gap, much of it caused by federal stimulus aid.

But DiNapoli also said Cuomo’s plan for 2012-13 would reduce transparency in how the public’s money is spent and consolidate more power under the governor. DiNapoli said his fellow Democrat wants to exempt agency contracts from the comptroller’s review, limiting a standard practice that provides better oversight and public disclosure.

Cuomo’s budget also would “dramatically increase” the governor’s power to move funds from one agency to another with less scrutiny and without regard for the original and publicly stated intent behind spending the money, DiNapoli said.