The 2011-12 New York State Budget is complete. The good news is that this year’s plan was negotiated in public, is on time and most importantly contains not a single new tax. It reduced year to year State spending by over $3 billion. The bad news is there are many painful cuts, necessary, but painful.
As this process began, we faced a $10 billion deficit and a mandate from voters across the State to close the deficit without increasing taxes, borrowing or playing a budget shell game that kicks the can down the road. I am proud to say by partnering with Governor Cuomo, we accomplished that goal.
In February, Governor Cuomo proposed a budget that slashed spending across the board, consolidated State programs and agencies and reformed the bloated Medicaid system. Most of the core principals contained in his plan are part of this final budget. It was my job to insure that the cuts were performed in a fair and equitable manner. I worked hard to make sure that Long Island was not used as the cash cow for the rest of the State. We will do our fair share, no more or no less.
The final product restores over $230 million to education for high need districts on the Island and upstate. $86 million was added for higher education including SUNY hospitals, SUNY and CUNY community colleges. $33 million was restored for direct aid to localities and $91 million for human services aid that benefits our seniors and most vulnerable New Yorkers. These restorations were important and they were done without new taxes or borrowing.
This budget prioritizes the need to make our State business friendly. It reverses a two year trend of budgets that raised taxes, increased spending and drove jobs and families out of New York. We have all seen the disastrous results from tax and spend budgets. Now we can begin to reap the benefits of fewer taxes and less spending.
Now that the budget process is behind us, it is time to move on to other priorities. We still have a lot of work to do. At the top of the list is the fight for a tax cap paired with significant mandate relief and rescinding the MTA payroll tax. As always, I’d like to know how you feel about the budget and where Government should be heading going forward.