Cuomo and state leaders agree on tentative budget deal
Albany lawmakers agreed to something rare Sunday: an on-time state budget.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos struck a tentative deal for a $132.5 billion budget ready to be passed before the April 1 deadline. The governor and the Legislature say the budget eliminates a $10 billion deficit, does not raise taxes and reduces overall spending by more than 2 percent.
The last time lawmakers passed an on-time budget was under Gov. George Pataki with the fiscal year 2005-06 budget. Before then it hadn’t been done since 1984, under Cuomo’s father, Mario.
New York City was counting on fiscal help from Albany to cover its own $600 million budget gap. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday the latest state budget agreement will not significantly close it and layoffs are still coming.
Cuomo had threatened his own budget cuts or the possibility of a state shutdown if lawmakers dragged their feet.
“I have said that New York is at a crossroads: one road leading to further dysfunction and decline, the other towards fiscal responsibility and government efficiency. I believe this budget puts us on the right path,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Silver, a Democrat, said Sunday the budget is “strong and firmly grounded in reality,” while Skelos, a Republican, called it a “responsible spending plan.”
Voting on the budget bills will take place before Friday, when the new fiscal year begins. The budget compromises include:
•A change in education and Medicaid spending that helps reduce next year’s deficit from $15 billion to $2 billion.
•Restoring $272 million in education funding.
•Eliminating 3,700 prison beds throughout the state under the governor’s plan. Also, a downsizing of the juvenile justice system by 30 percent.
•Merging various government agencies, such as Parole and Corrections, which will save $16.8 million.