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Politics

Teachers rail against budget, business applauds, doctors keep mum

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Education interests have taken to the megaphone to protest cuts in the state budget agreement.

Rick Karlin reports at the Times Union that the response to the budget compromise has been deafening from education interests - while the health care lobby has been silent:

Why the difference? One answer lies in how Cuomo arrived at cuts for both health care and education, as well as how he dealt with key unions. For health care, the governor set up a sprawling Medicaid Redesign Team with providers brought in and solicited on cost-saving ideas. While parts of the process have been criticized as being short on details and overly ambitious, the governor was able to enlist some of the state's major Medicaid players, namely the SEIU 1199 health care union and Healthcare Association of Greater New York. To do so, he engaged in some horsetrading: offering 1199 an expansion of "living wage" laws for its members and pushing for malpractice reforms that could help hospitals. But for education, there was little in the way of deals or bargains.

At Gannett Joseph Spector describes the approach as a "velvet fist:"

Cuomo's supporters said the governor did more than use his legal authority: He used the power of political persuasion. Cuomo regularly invited lawmakers to the governor's mansion to hear his pitch. He is also known for working the phones to build support for his agenda. "I think the big difference from the past four years ... is that the governor continued to stay engaged, and he continued to deal with both houses," said Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton. "We were on the same page with a lot of things."

At the Press & Sun-Bulletin George Basler reports that Southern Tier educators are resigning themselves to what Cuomo and legislative leaders are offering:

"It's not a whole lot of money, but at this point we'll take what we can get. How it's distributed is the real key," said David Hawley, president of the Binghamton City School District school board, which faces a 6.47 percent reduction in state aid, not including building aid, and close to 48 position reductions in next year's budget. The legislature and the governor reached an agreement to add back $272 million of the $1.5 billion cut in Cuomo's proposed budget released in January. That leaves a $1.2 billion cut statewide. The restored money includes direct school aid, money for schools for the deaf and blind and summer school special education.

Industry reaction

Business interests are pleased with the results of the negotiation, reports Thomas Adams at the Rochester Business Journal.  Among the other goodies for New York's businesses: a program to swap cheap power for job creation, tweaks to the economic incentives program called "Excelsior Jobs," and no "Millionaire's Tax."

And Debra Groom over at the Post-Standard has a statement from the New York Farm Bureau president, who says the budget will "help ensure a brighter future" for farmers:

“Not only were agricultural programs restored, but the overall budget did make a significant start at tackling our state’s larger fiscal problems, caused mainly by mandatory, non-discretionary spending levels for labor, education, and health care.

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