They aim to bridge significant differences in their spending plans
and pass a fourth consecutive on-time budget, something that has not
happened in nearly 40 years, but getting a deal done before the end
of the state's financial year on March 31 could be a tall order.
Both the Senate and the Assembly have advanced budgets that propose
spending more than Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat up for
re-election this year who has committed to cutting taxes by more
than $2 billion over the next three years, with $500 million of that
slated for 2014-2015.
"Each house wants to have a lot more spending than the governor,"
said Elizabeth Lynam, a specialist in New York's state budget at the
Citizens Budget Commission, an independent budget watchdog. "The
governor is going to have to work hard to keep them reined in."
Senate and Assembly leaders held the first general conference on
Monday. Leaders of both houses committed to meeting the March 31
deadline and appear intent on maintaining the state's new-found
enthusiasm for timeliness after years of dysfunction when it came to
passing a budget.
"Our members are ready to resolve the differences between the Senate
and the Assembly budget plans and work with Governor Cuomo to enact
another on-time budget," said Senator Dean Skelos, the Republican
co-leader of the Senate majority coalition, a sentiment echoed by
his Democratic partner Jeffrey Klein.
The Senate is governed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans
while the Assembly is run by Democrats.
"Our budget resolution, adopted on Wednesday, is a $143.4 billion
document which accepts or modifies much of what the governor
proposed in his exemplary budget," said Assembly leader Sheldon
Silver. He, too, voiced a commitment to deliver an on-time budget.
A fourth on-time budget may not sound like much, but in a state that
has passed only 14 on-time budgets in the last 40 years it is being
seen as a considerable achievement. In 2010 the budget ran into
July, and in other years it has been held up even into August.
The last time the state passed four on-time budgets in a row was
from 1974 to 1977, a period spanned by two governors. The last
governor to preside over four on-time budgets in a row was Nelson
Rockefeller, who ran New York for 14 years until 1973 before going
on to become vice president of the United States.
[to top of second column]
That could be a good omen for Cuomo who has long been linked to
While Senate and Assembly leaders met, Cuomo held a news conference
boasting cross-party support from more than 150 local elected
officials for his $1 billion property tax cutting plan that ties tax
relief to local authorities consolidating overlapping services.
"After the success of the property tax cap, this year the state is
in a position to deliver more than $1 billion in tax relief to
millions of New Yorkers by cutting property taxes.
"In order to do that, the legislature must make property tax relief
a reality in this budget, and our local governments must take steps
to become more cost-effective," Cuomo said in statement.
Neither the Senate nor the Assembly has fully backed that plan. The
Senate has proposed $1.4 billion to freeze property taxes for school
districts and local governments that stay within a 2 percent tax
levy cap, but has not explicitly tied the credit to local government
The Assembly is focusing on providing tax relief to home owners and
renters whose property tax bills exceed a percentage of their
income. The proposal does not require any cost cutting or efficiency
savings by local officials.
Both the Senate and the Assembly are asking for more spending on
school. The Senate's proposal increases school aid by $811.9
million, including more than $541 million restoring cuts, known as
GAP elimination adjustment, introduced in 2009. The Assembly is
asking for over $400 million more for school aid than provided in
the executive budget.
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