Legislative Budget Accord
From the NYS Assembly ē Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Herman D. Farrell, Jr. ē Chair, Ways and Means Committee
Legislature makes the right choice ó
Since releasing his budget proposal in January Ė with its massive cuts to education and health care, and $6.7 billion in tax and fee hikes Ė the governor has shown a complete unwillingness to undo the wrong choices heís made. With New Yorkís economy in critical condition, the Legislature had no alternative but to move forward with or without him, and both houses joined together in a bipartisan spirit to adopt a budget that helps build a better state.
To be sure, the budget agreement includes many cuts. It is also a much fairer budget than the governorís destructive proposal. The Legislatureís agreement will:
Saving our schools and protecting our future
Year after year, the governor tries to slash education spending, and, year after year, the Assembly restores it. In fact, prior to this year, the Assembly has successfully restored $2.8 billion of the governorís education cuts.
This year is no different. The governor wants to cut $1.4 billion from schools. The Assembly and Senate came together to make a better choice, paring the governorís cut by $1.1 billion for the coming school year. As a result, effective education programs will be spared and school districts will get the boost they need to stave off the massive property tax hikes, teacher layoffs, and elimination of programs that many districts would have been forced into under governor Patakiís proposal.
Because of the restorations, pre-kindergarten and universal full-day kindergarten Ė both of which are cited by experts as critical in a studentís development Ė will be saved, as will class size reduction initiatives and after-school programs.
Protecting quality, affordable health care
Under the governorís plan, the stateís health care system faced funding cuts of more than $2 billion Ė a body blow to an already reeling industry. In addition to jeopardizing quality care, the governorís proposal could have jeopardized 48,000 jobs in the health care industry Ė New Yorkís largest employer.
Again, the Legislature stepped up to block another bad choice from the governor, restoring $1.2 billion in funding for Medicaid, public health, and Health Care Reform Act programs. These restorations will ensure for many New Yorkers that theyíll continue to receive the kind of quality, affordable care they need when they need it.
Specifically, the Legislatureís bipartisan plan will:
Creating a more competitive workforce through higher education
The governorís budget would have been disastrous for our state colleges and universities, affecting both the students attending them in hopes of building a better future and the local economies that depend on them. Under the Administrationís original plan, SUNY students would have seen their tuitions rise $1,400, the Tuition Assistance Program cut by a third, and opportunity programs cut in half. Base aid to community colleges also would have fallen by $345 per student, forcing property tax hikes and tuition increases.
Rather than joining the governor in undermining the educational foundations of the high-tech economy New York is trying to create, the Legislature chose to fully restore the cuts to TAP, opportunity programs and community college base aid, and rolled back the governorís proposed tuition increase by a third. All in all, nearly $400 million was restored to higher education.
Building a stronger economy
Over the past nine years, New York has suffered because of the governorís failed economic development policies. Even at the height of the nationís economic boom in the late Ď90s, he failed to adequately capitalize on our assets. In fact, had we created jobs in New York at the same rate as the rest of the country during that time, we would have 476,000 more jobs statewide Ė as many jobs as there are people in the entire state of Wyoming.
This year is no different, as once again, the governor has failed to provide the state with the kind of creative blueprint we need to move our state forward. Even worse, his initial budget proposal would have wiped out the Assemblyís Empire Zone program, which his Administration acknowledged is the most successful economic development program in the history of the state. While the governor eventually withdrew his proposal, he still advanced a $3.5 million cut in the programís operation. Once again, it fell upon the Legislature to undo the governorís wrong choice, which it did by restoring more than $2.3 million of his cut, protecting this vital program and the jobs it creates.
Bipartisan spirit in Legislature gets cold shoulder from disengaged governor
Recognizing the seriousness of New Yorkís budget crisis, the Assembly and Senate have put aside partisan differences to do whatís right for the people of our state.
The governorís unwillingness to come up with better solutions almost defies belief. How can we build a better economy with a poorly-educated workforce? How can we build a more productive workforce when working families donít have access to the quality, affordable health care they need? How can our state move forward without any vision of our future?
In the total absence of leadership from the governor, the Assembly and Senate have joined together to pass a budget that undoes the governorís wrong choices. Now is not the time for the governor to stand in the way of progress. We need him to join with us to move New York forward.
Note: For a complete listing of the school aid runs, click here.
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