Cuomo presents his executive budget

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2012-13 executive budget closes the $2 billion budget gap faced by the state without assessing new taxes or fees, and it even leaves room for more local aid to school districts.

Cuomo presented his budget proposal in an hour-long address Tuesday, Jan. 17. He said putting together this year’s budget was easy because much of the hard work was done in formulating the 2011-12 budget.

“The good work we did last year is paying dividends in many ways,” Cuomo said. “Last April, we reduced the deficit and we made real cuts. Late last year, we reformed the tax code so that we could avoid major problems when we sat down to do this year’s budget.”

In the 2011-12 budget, the state legislature agreed to certain “givens” that would remain steady in this year’s budget: SUNY and CUNY tuition would increase 2.2 percent; state spending would increase 2 percent; and spending on education and Medicare would increase 4 percent. Given those assumptions, the state was left this year with a $2 billion deficit.

In order to address the deficit, Cuomo and the state budget office turned to other state offices and asked them to keep their costs flat from last year to this year, though they were initially expecting a 4.5 percent increase. The state agencies – the Office of the Attorney General, Office of Court Administration and Office of the State Comptroller – agreed, saving the state about $1.3 billion. Next year, Cuomo said he will also look to tie in performance indices to the budgetary process, which will further limit money going to state agencies. In addition, when it came to the deficit, the governor’s budget reduced public assistance aid to localities from the projected 3.9 percent to 2.6 percent, saving an additional $756 million.

Cuomo’s proposal increases the state’s operating budget by 1.9 percent, bringing the total to $88.7 billion, an increase of $1.7 billion. State operating funds exclude federal funds and long-term capital spending. With those funds included, the state budget, according to Cuomo’s plan, is $132.5 billion for the fiscal year that begins April 1, 2012. The number actually represents a decrease of $225 million since 2011-12.

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