Friday, February 02, 2007

Spitzer's Budget Highlights...NY is back on track, it has only taken 12 years!

The proposed budget, including federal funds, would be $120.6 billion if approved as presented to the state Legislature. That represents a 6.3 percent increase over the state budget for the current state fiscal year adopted by the Legislature and former Gov. George Pataki. The state funds portion of the budget proposal is $83.6 billion, a 7.8 percent increase over the current fiscal year's budget.

The proposal includes $3 billion in reserves, with additions to the state's so-called rainy day fund and the debt reduction fund.


_Under the proposed budget, state debt would grow from $48.8 billion to $52.6 billion, a 7.9 percent increase.


_The Spitzer proposal does not call for any increases in the state's major taxes. State tax revenue under the plan would grow to $60.96 billion, up from the current year's projected tax take of $58.3 billion. There would be some increased fees under the Spitzer proposal.

The budget proposal calls for $1.5 billion in new property tax relief as the first installment on a three-year plan to reduce property taxes for middle-class homeowners by $6 billion.


_Aid to schools would be increased by $1.4 billion and would grow to an extra $7 billion by the 2010-11 state fiscal year under the Spitzer proposal. The plan calls for a new formula for distributing school aid meant to send more resources to so-called high-needs schools. The proposed increase would bring school aid to $19.2 billion in the new fiscal year.

_Spitzer would require fiscal reforms and sanctions for continued failure, which could include closing as many as 5 percent of the state's schools and firing administrators and school board members. Teachers would face a more rigorous review for tenure.

_Families of private and parochial school children would receive a $1,000 tax deduction per child that could be used against tuition.

_There is no immediate call for a tuition increase for the State University of New York and the City University of New York. Spitzer does support "a rational tuition increase" plan that would eventually create regular, incremental increases. He would increase operating funding for SUNY and CUNY by 4.6 percent.

_The proposal would increase the Tuition Assistance Program by $857 million to fully fund the program, which provides grants for hundreds of thousands of public and private college students.


_Among $67.7 million in proposed new fees, Spitzer is hoping to collect $25 million from an expansion of New York's bottle deposit law. The governor's plan calls for expanding the "bottle bill" to include non-carbonated beverages. It currently applies only to carbonated beverages such as soda and beer. The new money will be used to increase the size of the state's Environmental Protection Fund that is used to purchase environmentally sensitive land to $250 million, up from the current $225 million.


_There would be higher fines, worth $18.8 million to the state in the new fiscal year, for drivers who speed in construction zones.


_Spitzer proposed saving $1.2 billion by cracking down on Medicaid fraud and generally running a tighter ship when it comes to handing out state health care funds. The proposals could mean less money than expected for doctors, hospitals and nursing homes, a situation that could create problems for the new governor in getting that part of his plan past lawmakers.

_The plan would spend $165 million over two years to provide health care coverage for 400,000 uninsured children.


_The state work force would grow to 197,068 employees under the Spitzer proposal, up from the current 194,600 workers. He would add 335 employees to the state Office of Mental Health as part of his plan to keep potentially violent sex offenders locked up beyond their normal prison sentences. The state Department of Environmental Conservation would get an extra 109 workers. His plan would eliminate the State Investigation Commission in September leading to 32 layoffs.


_The plan calls for spending $16 million, an almost 50 percent increase, on the state's tourism-promoting "I Love New York" advertising program. Spitzer has said that unlike past governors, he won't appear in such ads.


_The budget would provide $500,000 to help finance a wholesale farmers' market in New York City aimed at opening new markets for upstate farmers.

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