Monday, April 2, 2012

New York State Budget Passed On-Time

Though some may complain that the New York State budget process is controlled by three people, the process produced an on-schedule and responsible budget for the second year in a row.

First Early Passage Since 1983

The budget was passed a day early, and that hasn't happened since 1983.
The euphoria over the passage was met by some dissent.
“It is a not a good bill and it is not a bill I can vote for,” said Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), during the debate over the Aid to Localities portion of the budget. Krueger argued the bill did not go far enough to aid struggling communities.
Senate Democrats have also tried -- and failed -- tried to attach several hostile amendments to the spending bills. Among the banished amendments were measures to create a statewide health insurance exchange, approved the state version of the Dream Act, and boost school aid for struggling school districts.
But, the budget and the process that brought it to early passage have many positive elements and is deservedly winning praise from both parties.

Why Are Both Parties Happy

What held together were Cuomo's top priorities including a massive New York Works job-creating program and just about every item in his budget proposal presented two months ago. The Legislature, however, amended nearly all and rejected some.
Silver got an increase in the welfare grant once rejected by Cuomo, reinstatement of early intervention procedures in pre-kindergarten for kids in need, an increase in community college aid, and the right of Medicaid patients to get prescriptions their physicians deem best even if they are more expensive brand-name drugs.
Skelos can claim a long-sought doubling of the DNA database for law enforcement, eliminating the Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll tax for thousands of small businesses and schools, and keeping open the regional Department of Transportation offices slated to close.
The state's EPIC health care program was expanded to a fill the "donut hole" in Medicare, averting a spike in co-pays for seniors. Silver and Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous secured $100 million for upstate road repair to keep pace with downstate on transportation, a critical issue to salve upstate-downstate tensions in the Legislature.
The Future

Cuomo will propose two more budgets before he faces a vote on his re-election. Some worry that those budgets will be geared toward winning votes rather than responsibly preparing our state to thrive over the long term. Interestingly, Cuomo is expected to be a Presidential candidate in 2016. We can guess that Cuomo may begin to campaign for President with his 2013 and 2014 budget proposals. Those same budgets may draw more opposition from Republicans because of Cuomo's electoral goals.

Whether because of the re-election fight looming or because of a planned campaign for President of the United States, Cuomo may find that his two-year streak of on-time, respectable budgets becomes increasingly more difficult to extend.

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