Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his executive budget Tuesday afternoon, which closes a $3.5 billion budget deficit through an extensive government reform program, that will not enact new taxes.
Cuomo said he anticipates $2 billion in savings will come from eliminating duplications in government. He highlighted his plan to overhaul education and bring $25 billion in economic activity to New York through private-public partnerships. He said he also plans to enact mandate relief and pension reform.
“Year after year things were just added to it, and it just grew it, and grew it, and grew it,” Cuomo said about the size of government in New York. He cited that New York State contracts more than 140,000 service providers, accounting for 1/3 of the state’s budget. He said executive compensation to contractors would be addressed in the coming budget.
“You find out government hasn’t been organized at all,” Cuomo said. The governor is expecting to find huge savings, about $2 billion, in the elimination of the duplicated services. He said, for example, that 13 agencies administer 91 job training programs in the state, about half of them through the department of labor alone.
Perhaps the most onerous of reforms for local governments are for school districts, he said. In order to avoid losing $700 million in federal “Race to the Top” education funding, Cuomo said he will create a proposal for new teacher evaluations in the 30-day budget amendment if the state education department and teachers’ unions cannot resolve a lawsuit within 30 days.
Local school districts will risk losing increased state aid if the new teacher evaluations, yet to be proposed, are not enacted by January 2013. The governor also proposed $805 million in increased education aid, 76 percent of the increase will go to high needs districts, the rest of the aid increase will be linked to implementation of new teacher evaluations.
The governor also said he will introduce legislation to enact a Tier VI to the state’s pension plan, which he says will be 50 percent cheaper to the state than current pension tiers.
The governor proposed relieving counties of some Medicaid expenses. Currently, counties must pay any increase in Medicaid contributions 3 percent or lower. In the governor’s budget, the state will gradually take more than 100 percent of increased Medicaid contributions, essentially capping counties' contribution to Medicaid.
Speaking to fellow legislators toward the end of his speech, Cuomo said a legislator had approached him before his speech and said some of the proposals in the State of the State and the budget would be difficult to enact.
“What we’re talking about here are major shifts, don’t underestimate what we’re trying to achieve,” Cuomo said. The reform plans have been dubbed “ambitious” by many legislators at all levels of government. The governor said that Albany had “created a sense of optimism and hope,” last year in no small part by passing an on-time budget.
“The best thing we did last year was we regained the public trust, and that is a great gift,” Cuomo said.