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The Telegram
  • Local lawmakers react to governor’s budget proposal

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sending a nearly $143 billion budget without tax increases or layoffs to the state Legislature.

    The 2013 - 2014 budget proposal introduced Tuesday would be a five percent increase over the current spending plan when federal aid for recovery from Superstorm Sandy is included.

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  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sending a nearly $143 billion budget without tax increases or layoffs to the state Legislature.
    The 2013 - 2014 budget proposal introduced Tuesday would be a five percent increase over the current spending plan when federal aid for recovery from Superstorm Sandy is included.
    Without the anticipated federal disaster aid, however, Cuomo’s budget proposal increases by less than two percent. It includes several increased fees and other small revenue raisers.
    Cuomo’s proposal would increase school aid by 4.4 percent and include funding for longer school days while closing a $1.3 billion deficit. He also wants to fund marketing programs, duty-free shops for New York products and jobs programs aimed at economically struggling upstate communities. Colleges would provide training needed by local businesses while helping to develop new industries.
    “Fiscal responsibility has been a key phrase in Albany over the last two years and this year’s budget proposal appears to maintain that goal. Overall, I was pleased with the spending plan which offers a sound baseline to build on as we embark on budget negotiations,” said state Senator James Seward, R - Oneonta. “Upstate’s needs were front and center and I look forward to working with the governor to ensure vital programs backing agriculture, tourism and small business are part of the final budget.”
    “At first glance, I can appreciate that Gov. Cuomo’s 2013 - 2014 Executive Budget proposal closes the $1.3 billion deficit without raising taxes on hardworking New Yorkers. We’re at a critical point where every dollar spent in our state must go toward creating jobs and lowering the tax burden placed on families and job creators. This is especially important and relevant in the Mohawk Valley and the North Country, which have been hit hardest by this unstable economy and New York’s job-killing policies,” said Assemblyman Marc Butler, R - Newport.
    Cuomo’s budget would fund longer school days and school years for school districts that choose to increase instruction time by at least 25 percent.
    State aid to municipalities outside New York City wouldn’t increase at a time when many counties and local governments worry about insolvency amid rising costs and shrinking tax bases. But Cuomo is offering a task force to provide advice to local officials and a borrowing plan to help municipalities survive without further burdening taxpayers. Cuomo would allow local governments to borrow against future savings under the less expensive pension plan adopted a year ago for new hires.
    “Additional funding for schools was included. Now the key is to direct the bulk of the new money to the neediest districts. Boosting overall aid is helpful, however, the key is correcting the distribution formula,” said Seward. “The governor also presented a strategy to assist local governments. While mandate relief proposals like capping pension costs are a start, more attention needs to be focused on this area to help local governments as they struggle to make ends meet and keep taxes down.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Cuomo proposed suspending the driver’s licenses of people with big, overdue tax bills.
    He also would make it harder to plea down some speeding charges to avoid bigger fines and insurance premium increases — a process he said costs $58 million a year and makes roads unsafe.
    Cuomo proposed $35.9 million to implement key components of the nation’s toughest gun control measure adopted last week, which was fueled by the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., last month. It includes registration of assault weapons, re-registering of pistol permits, new databases to keep track of guns and defensive and safety measures at schools, including at entrances.
    The governor’s proposal now goes to the Legislature for hearings. Cuomo and legislative leaders will soon meet behind closed doors to negotiate a final plan by the April 1 start of the fiscal year.
    In most years, the Legislature alters a governor’s budget by less than one percent, though it often involves the areas most critical to New Yorkers including education, taxes and health care.
    “The governor’s budget hit on many of the right themes, including no new taxes or fees. Now, as we fine tune the spending plan, and work toward a third straight on-time budget, I will focus on items that will generate a healthier economy and help our state tap its full potential,” said Seward.
    “In the coming months, I am eager to look over the budget thoroughly and work to make sure that we support economic re-growth and support existing job creators by passing meaningful unfunded mandate relief for local schools and governments so that property taxes can be lowered,” said Butler.
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    Contributing: The Associated Press
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