Gov. Andrew Cuomo made clear that he won’t approve a state budget that doesn’t include pension reform, saying he would force lawmakers to either approve his plans in a budget extender or risk a government shutdown.
The threat was among Cuomo’s strongest yet this budget year that he wants a new pension tier in the 2012-13 budget, which takes effect April 1. The Legislature is expected today to release its own budget resolutions, but it won’t include Cuomo’s proposal for a less generous pension plan for new public employees.
Cuomo suggested he could include pension reform in a budget extender if a deal isn’t reached by April 1. In doing so, Cuomo would be using his greatest budget weapon — forcing lawmakers to either accept his budget deal or risk having the state run out of money to pay its bills.
“I said clearly if we don’t have pension reform, I’m not going to pass the budget. Period,” Cuomo said on 1300-AM (WGDJ) in Albany.
He added if lawmakers don’t agree to pension reform, “Then we’ll go the extender route. If they believe in their position that we don’t need pension reform, fine, bring it to a head. Let’s go extenders. You stand up and you make your case, and I’ll make my case and we’ll see who the people of the state of New York agree with.”
Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats are planning to release their own budget amendments today, and some of their proposals will put them at odds with Cuomo.
Both sides propose to restore roughly $200 million in school aid, shifting money Cuomo wanted to make available to schools through a competitive grant program.
The Democratic-controlled Assembly is proposing to reduce to zero the income taxes for households earning less than $25,000 a year and increase aid to community colleges by 10 percent.
Senate Republicans are expected to propose a series of economic-development incentives.
Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Republicans, said the conference’s proposal doesn’t include pension reform, but, “There are ongoing discussions between all the parties on this. We are committed to achieving pension reform.”