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Politics

Budget details unveiled in advance of April 1 deadline

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Negotiators have come to an agreement on a state spending plan.

It's a new week in Albany and the state has a new budget to celebrate.  Over the weekend legislative leaders and the governor wrapped up negotiations on the $132.5 billion spending plan. 

The details, according to a release from the governor's office:

  • $10 billion deficit resolved,
  • "Historic reforms that redesign state government, create efficiencies through consolidation, cap spending increases for education and Medicaid, and transform the future budgeting process,"
  • Overall sppending cut by 2 percent,
  • 3,700 prison beds eliminated,
  • $130 million in funding for regional economic councils,
  • No new taxes or borrowing

Casey Seiler at the Times Union reports that leaders are excited - nay, elated - to have completed the spending plan early:

After years of contentious and frankly dysfunctional budget-making -- last year's squabbling stretched into August, close to the state record for tardiness -- the officials on hand Sunday afternoon in the Capitol's ornate Red Room sounded almost giddy at the prospect of approving a fiscal plan that closes an estimated $10 billion deficit without raising taxes, and actually doing it a day or two early. "I hope this is a template for a new era of cooperation and productivity between the executive and the Legislature," said Cuomo, flanked by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and assorted rank-and-file lawmakers. Cuomo's grin broadened. "I'm hoping that this spirit of love and euphoria that I feel is infectious and grows and continues," he said. "Do you feel it, Dean?"

Joe Spector at the Democrat and Chronicle's Vote Up! blog has a round-up of reactions, from the lieutenant governor to Real Rent Reform Campaign.

Spector also has a bulleted list of highlights at Vote Up!, including details on prison closures, Recharge NY, and education cuts.

UB2020 in the budget

Tom Precious at the Buffalo News reports that even though the University at Buffalo's "UB2020" package of reforms isn't included in the plan, leaders are still bullish on the idea:

[Governor Andrew] Cuomo and [Senate Majority Leader Dean] Skelos went out of their way to say they embrace the UB 2020 plan to help fund the University at Buffalo's massive downtown development effort, though the proposal, as expected, did not make it into the final budget deal. Cuomo said he would convene a summit with involved parties "for the purpose of figuring out how to get the project going finally." Cuomo and Skelos said they hope for a deal before the legislative session ends in June. Silver, whose Democratic conference opposed the UB 2020 plan, said he would meet with the new incoming UB president and said the Assembly will embrace a plan to make UB "the center of economic growth for the City of Buffalo and Western New York."

Malpractice

Meanwhile James Mulder at the Post Standard reports that a cap on medical malpractice premiums is not part of the budget agreement - and that groups that disagreed on the cap, continue to disagree:

Dr. David Duggan, president of the Onondaga County Medical Society, said malpractice insurance rates in New York are among the highest in the nation and those costs ultimately get passed along to insurers and patients. The consumer group Public Citizen calls Cuomo’s malpractice proposal “inhumane.”

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