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NYS has a budget agreement

Thursday, March 21, 2013 - Updated: 8:57 AM

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have announced an agreement on the New York state budget for 2013-2014 that includes a hike to the minimum wage.

According to a press release from the Office of the Governor, the budget will also close a $1.3 billion deficit, creates jobs, and cuts taxes for middle class families and small businesses.

This agreement puts the state on track to pass an on-time or early budget for the third year in a row, something that hasn’t happened in almost 30 years.

“Over the last two years, NYS has created more than 300,000 new private sector jobs with 17 consecutive months of job growth,” the press release says. “This year’s budget continues to focus on growing our economy, including cutting taxes significantly for small businesses and middle class families.”

The budget launches several other job-creating initiatives:

Initial funding for 10 high-tech Innovation Hot Spots across the state to incubate businesses.

Workforce training program to link SUNY and CUNY community colleges with employers.

A third round of awards to the Regional Economic Development Councils.

The budget also includes landmark reforms intended to give students a top-quality education, including:

Full-day pre-k programs, especially for higher need school districts.

Extended learning time for students.

Community schools that integrate social, health and other services.

Increased standards for teacher certification and rewards for high-performing teachers.

And finally, this budget raises the minimum wage to $9 over the next three years from $7.25 an hour.

COUNTIES RESPOND

With three 2013-14 State Budget bills released so far, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) remains cautiously optimistic about next year's spending plan, which takes effect April 1.

As of Thursday, March 21, three budget bills had been released: Bonding Authorization and Article VII language for Public Protection and General Government as well as Transportation and Economic Development. These three measures are currently being reviewed by NYSAC.

"While we do not yet know all the details, we applaud the Governor's leadership and the work of the state Legislature for another on time state budget,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, president of the New York State County Executives Association. "Our state leaders have heard the concerns raised by county leaders from across the state and we anticipate a final budget that will provide tools to stabilize costs in our communities."

SO FAR

Among the agreements already announced, counties have focused attention on:

-- an increase of $75 million in CHIPs funding authorization for each of the next two state fiscal years, to create jobs and complete needed maintenance and construction of local roads and bridges;

-- expanded state aid support for community college students and the counties that cover a portion of these costs;

-- a pension contribution smoothing mechanism;

-- a $15 million increase to the Environmental Protection Fund from unclaimed bottle deposit nickels; and

-- workers’ compensation reforms.

"In order to rebuild a better state, we need a strong partnership between our state and local leaders. This year's budget continues to make progress on that front," said NYSAC President Edward A. Diana, the Orange County executive. "County officials from across the state were actively involved in this year's budget process. We communicated our need for mandate relief to the Governor and our state lawmakers. NYSAC will continue to monitor the budget process carefully as negotiations continue."

HOPED FOR

As additional budget details are drafted, counties are hoping for:

-- an acceleration of the cap on local Medicaid costs;

-- home rule authority that will allow for a uniform local sales tax rate;

-- binding arbitration reforms that more consistently consider "ability to pay;"

-- public health reforms and restored funding; and

-- enhanced audit authority for counties to reduce waste fraud and abuse in preschool special education programs and Medicaid.

     

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