Culminating weeks of secretive negotiations and intense political jockeying, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and leaders of the Legislature announced on Sunday the outlines of a $132.5 billion budget that would cut state spending, impose no major new taxes and begin a long-term overhaul of the state’s bloated Medicaid programs.
The agreement comes five days before the March 31 budget deadline, offering the prospect of Albany’s first on-time budget in five years, in what Mr. Cuomo and his counterparts in the Legislature said they hoped would signal a new day of responsible budgeting and effective government in a Capitol long criticized for its gridlock and dysfunction. The deal would end a temporary income tax surcharge on high-income New Yorkers, which some have called the "millionaire's tax" even though it affects incomes starting at $200,000 annually.
Mr. Cuomo’s aggressive and strategic approach to negotiations appeared to have yielded significant victories, including a year-to-year cut of more than $2 billion in spending on health care and education, the two largest drivers of New York’s ever-growing budget. Mr. Cuomo and the Legislature also agreed to create a new Department of Financial Services by merging the existing state banking and insurance agencies, as well as other consolidations.
Dashing the hopes of many Democratic lawmakers, including the bulk of the New York City delegation, the budget included neither an extension of state rent regulations — slated to expire in June — or of the temporary income tax surcharge on wealthy New Yorkers, a measure that has drawn support among Democrats and even some Senate Republicans as a way to further offset Mr. Cuomo’s proposed cuts to schools and other programs.
Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, said in a statement: “Government had to tighten its belt with the same sense of urgency that working families have been tightening their belts since the economy went into freefall in 2008. The sole consolation is that working with the Governor, we were able to achieve critical restorations which will soften the cuts affecting working families, our senior citizens, our most vulnerable populations and the children in our classrooms.”
Sunday’s announcement came as Democrats, teachers unions, and other groups mounted a last-ditch effort to force reconsideration of those measures. While lawmakers in both the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly typically vote for budget deals crafted by their leadership, some Democrats have in recent days openly discussed voting against a budget that is too austere.
Little Andy gave the Koch Brothers and his other wealthy cronies and overlords exactly what they wanted.
Be sure that Bloomberg will use this budget as an excuse to announce specific layoffs in the school system very, very soon.