ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) - Governor Andrew Cuomo's second budget is holding the line on state spending and taxes again. The Cuomo budget offers pension reform, and relief from mandates and rising Medicaid costs.
Under the governor's plan, the state would take over increases in Medicaid costs to counties, for the next three years. The governor also says he will stay true to his pledge to make a billion dollars in economic development assistance available to Buffalo over a five year period.
"If we invest in Buffalo and we turn around Buffalo and Buffalo is generating jobs, it adds to our balance sheet," argued Cuomo.
When it comes to education, the governor says teacher evaluation must take place in order for the state to receive $700 million in federal education money.
Cuomo said, "Somewhere along the way we've become more consumed with perpetuating the bureaucracy than focusing on achievement for the student."
Buffalo Teacher Federation President Phil Rumore said the union right now is trying to work out a system with the school district.
"We're currently working as to how to fairly use student growth to access teachers. Student absenteeism has to count. Whether you have children that don't speak any English in your class. Also whether you have special education students in the class, and we're trying to work it out," explained Rumore.
The governor also has proposed pension changes for future public employees, giving them the option of a 401K-type plan that he says would save the government money.
Cuomo said, "It effects no current union employee. We're only talking about future employees who may be hired by a union."
CSEA Regional President Flo Tripi responded, "I think he's asking really to kill his middle class in New York state, to be honest with you."
Mayor Byron Brown said he is thrilled with the governor's plan to invest in Buffalo. County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the budget plan puts the county in a better position to lower property taxes.
Below is a list compiled by The Associated Press of key elements in Cuomo's 2012-2013 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.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
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