Albany, NY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget address Tuesday will propose keeping spending under 2 percent, while adding no new taxes and improving schools, according to an administration official.
The official said Cuomo’s budget address will propose funding to back to up his school reform package and to support upstate jobs programs and tourism. Cuomo will put dollar commitments to his State of the State speech Jan. 9 filled with progressive and often costly proposals.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because Cuomo hadn’t yet released any details of his budget.
Public school aid is already scheduled for a 4-percent increase in spending.
Cuomo, however, said he also wants to provide state funds to school districts that choose to lengthen their school day or academic year to provide more instruction time for students. He has also proposed more pre-Kindergarten classes and competitive grants in two previous budgets to encourage districts to improve management efficiency and student performance. The Democrat also proposes to create an entrance exam for new teachers like the bar exams taken by lawyers, and to pay “master teachers” $15,000 bonuses for four years as an incentive to improve and to train other teachers.
Cuomo also wants to make more health services and other programs needed by students and their families in schools to help contend with the problems and pressures that hurt student performance and success.
The budget proposal, scheduled for 2 p.m., must also contend with a deficit of more than $1 billion. The spending plan is expected to be about $134 billion.
Cuomo had promised no new taxes in his previous two budget proposals and in his 2010 campaign, but in December 2011 he and the Legislature in special session raised $1.9 billion in income taxes targeted at millionaires. He also approved five straight years of tuition increases at public colleges. That tax increase Cuomo and Republicans once opposed as a job killer also provided $200 to $400 tax breaks to many middle class families.
The budget proposal on Tuesday will go to the Legislature where a series of hearings will be held. Cuomo and legislative leaders then traditionally meet in closed-door negotiations to try to agree on a state budget by the April 1 start of the fiscal year.
New York’s budget is watched closely nationwide because of its early fiscal year. New York’s budget often shows trends in other states’ budget proposals scheduled over the next several months.
Cuomo and economic forecasters had expected fiscal times to be better by now after state budgets had to contend with deficits totaling more than $10 billion because of drastically reduced tax revenue during the recession.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warns, however, that tax collections continue to remain below the state’s latest estimates.
Tax collections are still not growing at the rate needed to meet year-end projections, and the boost in personal income taxes in December likely won’t continue,” DiNapoli said.
“So far the budget has been balanced by spending less and taking advantage of one-time windfalls,” DiNapoli said. “With the budget process about to begin again, revenue projections should be realistic so that the budget is not balanced with revenues that won’t be there.”
DiNapoli said the Cuomo administration in November estimated tax growth at 2.9 percent, but it has come in at 1.2 percent. That would mean tax receipts would have to be an unlikely 7.1 percent in the last three months of the fiscal year to meet projections. He said sales tax receipts have also been flat so far this fiscal year.
Local governments will again be looking for some relief from mandated costs as they face potential insolvency because of declining populations and tax bases while costs rise for public workers and their pensions.
Cuomo’s budget may also need to address costs from Superstorm Sandy that won’t be covered by federal aid approved by Congress.
On the revenue side, advocates and opponents of drilling into a natural gas supply in the Southern Tier will be looking for a hint on whether Cuomo will approve or reject the lucrative proposal that environmentalists say threatens drinking water. Cuomo has so far said he won’t act on the so-called hydrofracking issue until a health study is complete.
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