Looking to build on the momentum built over his first year in office, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his 2012-13 Executive Budget and Reform Plan — a plan which looks to significantly cut the deficit without raising taxes.
“Because of the tough choices and the historic reforms we achieved last year, we are able to propose a pro-growth budget, tackle broad fiscal reform, drive accountability in our schools to put students first, and leverage tens of billions of dollars of new investment to create jobs without significant cost to the taxpayer,” he said after revealing his budget on Tuesday, January 17.
Cuomo’s $132.5 billion budget plan — which the Legislature will debate before an April 1 deadline — seeks to cut spending by $225 million while closing the $2 billion deficit. According to the governor, the proposal does so without the dramatic cuts enacted last year and with no new taxes.
Highlights of the plan include:
• Eliminating automatic spending inflators and implementing reforms throughout the budget to ensure that spending increases for service providers reflect performance and actual cost
• Allocating $1.3 billion in state investment designed to spur a total of $25 billion from other sources to launch and accelerate major infrastructure projects and create thousands of jobs
• Creating a plan for the state to take over 100 percent of the costs of Medicaid growth that will be phased in over three years, saving local governments $1.2 billion over the next five years
• Creating a pension reform plan that will save state taxpayers and local governments outside the city $83 billion, and will save $30 billion over the next 30 years
• Increasing school aid by $805 million, including $250 million linked to improved academic performance and management efficiency, and implementation of an enhanced teacher evaluation process.
Besides increasing school aid, the governor also pushed for reform of the teacher evaluation system. Under the governor’s plan, the State Education Department and school employee unions will have 30 days to agree on a new effective teacher evaluation system or the governor will propose his own in the 30 day budget amendments. Schools will be given one year to implement the system or risk forfeiting an increase in education aid in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school budgets.
Elected officials from around the borough didn’t waste any time commenting on Cuomo’s proposal. City Comptroller John Liu said that the plan reflects the tough economic times in the city.
“While we still need to review the details of the governor’s proposal to offer new hires the option of receiving a defined contribution, or 401k-type, retirement plan, research has shown that the defined benefit plans actually save government employers money,” he said, referring to the governor’s pension reform plan.