New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a $137 billion state budget that would increase spending about 2 percent without increasing taxes. It includes some fee hikes for New Yorkers and a $1 billion deficit.
Cuomo's previous state budgets had to contend with deficits totaling more than $10 billion because of drastically reduced tax revenue during the recession. He currently faces a projected deficit of over $1 billion. Cuomo's presentation detailed his spending and revenue plans for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Cuomo has again told state agencies to plan for no or little spending increases over the current budget totaling about $133 billion. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says tax collections remain below the latest estimates.
Cuomo's budget proposal to the Legislature provides 4.4 percent more aid to schools, although Cuomo's budget is expected to increase that to pay for added security at schools under his gun control act signed into law last week. Municipal aid outside New York City is proposed to stay level, at a time when many counties and smaller local governments worry they could become insolvent.
The Cuomo administration wants to spend almost $36 million in the coming fiscal year to implement new restrictions on guns that were passed last week. The money would be used to add state police staff to oversee recertification of all pistol licenses every five years and register formerly legal rifles now categorized as assault weapons. Troopers would also help improve safety at schools.
Officials estimate there are about a million of those rifles owned by New Yorkers and say registration will be free. The law calls for registration within a year starting April 15. The budget proposed Tuesday includes nearly $33 million in capital spending for a new statewide database with gun registrations and information like felony convictions or mental illness determinations that would disqualify someone from having a gun.
Cuomo wants to allow smaller businesses to start selling Quick-Draw. Cuomo proposed allowing businesses smaller than 2,500 square feet that sell lottery tickets to be able to offer the electronic Quick-Draw game. The proposal would not include bars and other places that serve alcohol on-site. The elimination of the seller size restriction is expected to generate $24 million a year in new revenue.
The Cuomo administration has proposed suspending the driver's license of anyone who owes more than $10,000 in overdue taxes. As part of its proposal for the fiscal year starting April 1, the administration is calling for the new program to help with collection enforcement of "past-due tax liabilities." Those are described as "fixed and final," where the taxpayer has exhausted their rights to administrative and court review. It would be modeled after the state program using license suspension to compel child support payments.
The budget proposed Tuesday also includes increasing the civil penalty for possessing unstamped or illegally stamped cigarettes from $150 to $600 per carton.
Cuomo's budget proposal includes about $85 million for the Thruway Authority to eliminate the need for a highly unpopular toll increase on trucks. Cuomo says the funding assistance for the Thruway includes the state takeover of personnel costs for state troopers on the highway. The state Thruway Authority board in December dropped plans for a 45-percent increase in truck tolls, saying it would take a number of cost-cutting steps instead.