New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his mostly flat budget proposal of about $132 billion is a tool for shaping a new future for the state.
His proposal would increase state spending by 2 percent, or about $89 million. But the overall plan, including federal funding tied to state spending, is a fraction of 1 percent lower than the current budget, and it would eliminate a $2 billion deficit.
Cuomo's plan calls for using $1.9 billion in revenue from a "millionaire tax" approved in December and making just over $1 billion in cuts. The proposal presented Tuesday would also merge some state agencies.
Cuomo also wants a less costly pension tier for new hires that would save state and local governments billions of dollars in employer payments over 30 years.
Here are some of the key elements in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2012-13 budget proposal:
- Spending would remain essentially flat at $132.5 billion.
- There would be no tax increases, but about $2 billion raised from a new "millionaire tax" on the state's top earners would help close a deficit and pay for middle class tax cuts.
- Public school and Medicaid funding would be increased 4 percent, or $805 million. Cuomo wants a new system for evaluating teachers and principals that would take into account student performance. Schools that don't adopt the new system would risk not getting state aid increases in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 budgets.
- The state would create a plan to take over the cost of growth in Medicaid spending from counties over the course of three years, saving them $1.2 billion over the next five years.
- A less costly pension tier for new public employees would save the state, local and New York City governments $113 billion over 30 years.
- The New York Works program would be used to drive $15 billion in public and private funding for infrastructure work in coming years, including $5 billion for a new Tappan Zee Bridge.
- The Environmental Protection Fund would be unchanged at $134 million, $102 million would be set aside for flood control, erosion and dam safety projects and $94 million would fund capital projects and improvements at state parks, ski areas and historic sites.
- The Department of Environmental Conservation budget would be cut by 16 percent, or $167 million, to $872 million, largely tracking a drop in federal stimulus money. It would include $70 million for open space programs that include buying land and conservation easements.
- There is no money for regulating hydraulic fracturing for natural gas because the technology hasn't been approved in New York.
- Public colleges would receive less or level financial support while tuitions would increase. The plan would hold the State University of New York and City University of New York at current levels, but community colleges would see a cut amounting to less than 1 percent. There would be another $300 annual tuition increase as part of a five-year plan for increases at SUNY and CUNY.
- Social services recipients would see a delay in welfare check increases as a 10 percent increase slated for this summer would be split into two annual 5 percent hikes.
- The budget would use $1.3 billion to encourage private sector investments that would create jobs and bolster the state's infrastructure.
- Law enforcement spending would be level at $4.6 billion, but the state police would begin training recruits again after a three-year hiatus. State police funding of $720 million would allow two training classes for up to 230 new recruits.