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Cuomo Calls for Cuts, Wins Approval of Area Officials

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s first proposed budget contained a 2.7-percent reduction in spending for the 2011-12 fiscal year, including cuts to Medicaid and school aid. The area’s state representatives across the aisle supported Cuomo’s plans, calling the cuts necessary to keep the state’s tax burden from driving more and more residents out of New York.
“The devil will be in the details,” Senator Greg Ball (R-40) said. “But this governor seems to get that just like families are tightening their belts it’s time for government to do the same.”
Later, in a press release, Ball added, “This is about a budget of needs, not wants and most people seem to understand that with an economy like this and a legislature that has spent decades spending beyond our ability to pay, even the most sacred of cows may end up on the dollar menu at McDonalds.”
Cuomo’s $132.9 billion budget represents an approximately $8.9 billion cut from projected funding levels and more than a $3 billion cut from the 2010-2011 budget, with the Democratic governor eschewing tax increases and relying on spending reductions to close an estimated $10 billion budget deficit. School aid and Medicaid would each see a $2.85 billion reduction from current-services spending.“I’m generally supportive of what we have to do. We spend too much money in New York State,” Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-90) said. “If we really care about New York State, we have to get our fiscal house in order.”
The budget is also the first in office for Assemblyman Steve Katz (R-99), who applauded Cuomo for being realistic about the state’s situation.
“I think that it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” Katz said. “There’s more to be done. I’m sure that this is a process that is going to take more than a year.”
Though Cuomo is a Democrat, Galef said she believed the budget had a better shot at passing in the Republican-controlled Senate than the Assembly, which has a Democratic majority.
Legislators pointed to a need for improved efficiency in education, citing Cuomo’s statement that the state ranked first in spending per student but 34th in student achievement (though some education officials have found fault in the second number).
“I think it is a very good and wise idea that we reevaluate the value that we’re giving to the schools compared to what we’re getting back,” Katz said.
Galef, a retired school teacher, said she believed the education cuts could be the push school districts need to seriously consider consolidation, for which she has long been an advocate.
Across the board, Cuomo said he is looking for ways to consolidate and eliminate government agencies. Ball will play a part as a member of the governor’s Spending and Government Efficiency Commission, tasked with finding redundancies in the state’s agencies.
“As one of two senators appointed to the governor’s SAGE Commission, my job will be to advocate on behalf of a better, smaller and more efficient government,” Ball said in his press release about the budget.
The state legislature will now have until April 1 to adopt a budget. Last year, the final $136 billion budget wasn’t adopted until August.

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