With details of the Senate majority coalition’s budget plan leaking out, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a lengthy statement Thursday welcoming the start of the real budget negotiations.
The majorities in the Senate and Assembly each put out their own budget proposals in mid-March each year, outlining their own wishlist of priorities and pet issues ahead of the March 31 budget deadline.
The Assembly passed it’s Democrat-created budget resolution on Wednesday. As of Thursday afternoon, details of a Senate plan crafted by Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference began leaking out, with the plan slated to include $540 million a year for New York City pre-kindergarten and after-school programs.
“Now that the legislature’s one house budget resolutions are being completed, real discussions can begin,” Cuomo said in the statement.”
Speaking with reporters Thursday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said he would be “delighted” if the Senate proposed $540 million for pre-K programs. In its budget, the Assembly backed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to fund universal, full-day pre-K — a tax on the city’s wealthy.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Senate plan — which hasn’t yet been released — would flag $340 million a year for five years for New York City pre-K and $200 million for after-school programs.
In addition, $145 million in the Senate plan would be earmarked for districts outside of the city.
“I’m very happy with $540 million for pre-K. I don’t need a tax,” Silver said. “If they put in $540 million and there are no conditions to it, if it’s not conditioned on anything else, I would be delighted to support it.”
The Senate is expected to vote on it’s one-house budget late Thursday. In addition to the pre-K funding, it will reject Cuomo’s proposal to merge the bank tax and the corporate franchise tax, a plan that has been panned by left-leaning groups.
Still unclear, however, is what steps the Senate will take to modify Cuomo’s proposal to essentially freeze property taxes for two years if local governments can stay within the property-tax cap and agree to consolidate services. Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, had said the Senate’s plan would modify Cuomo’s plan, but no details have been made public yet.
Cuomo said the “main budget issue will be whether we have the will to do what is politically difficult and attack the waste and duplication of local governments that drive up property taxes.”
“I understand the pressure from local officials who want a ‘business as usual’ approach, but I also understand the crushing burden of these property taxes on homeowners across New York,” Cuomo said. “Providing a state subsidy as a bandage to temporarily alleviate the pain of ever rising property taxes is the kind of short sighted approach we left behind three years ago. We must reduce the dysfunction and waste – not enable and subsidize it.”
(Mike Groll / AP file photo)