On Tuesday, January 21, Governor Andrew Cuomo made a speech in which he laid out his 2014-2015 state budget proposal. The budget calls for expenditures of $137.2 billion, an increase of $1.9 billion over the current budget year.
The Governor proposed $2 billion in tax cuts, including decreases in corporate income taxes and estate taxes, tax breaks for upstate manufacturers, and a potential property tax freeze for municipalities that limit spending and consolidate government services. However, the Governor did not address Senate proposals to streamline burdensome regulations that negatively impact businesses.
In the education realm, Governor Cuomo allocated $1.5 billion within the next five years toward the implementation of pre-kindergarten programs in districts across the state, along with another $720 million during the next five years toward additional after-school programs. (The Governor did not, however, implement New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to pay for new pre-kindergarten programs with an additional tax on high earners.) As he mentioned during his State of the State Address earlier in the month, Governor Cuomo intends to request that voters authorize a $2 billion bond initiative this fall; the borrowed funds would be used to provide educational technology and pre-kindergarten classroom space.
One potentially controversial measure that was included in the Governor’s budget is taxpayer funding of political campaigns. According to the Governor’s plan, each dollar of campaign donations under $175 will be matched by $6 in taxpayer funding. This measure—which is opposed by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms—has already met with opposition from Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos.
The Governor has stated that the proposed budget would yield a $2 billion surplus in three years’ time; however, E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center disputes the Governor’s figures.
Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal is a mixed bag. Whether the contents of that bag remain the same after the Legislature gets involved remains to be seen.