Updated 03/28/2011 10:33 AM
State Leaders Reach Tentative Budget Deal
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With less than a week until the state's budget deadline, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have struck a tentative agreement.
The announcement was made Sunday following a closed door meeting in the state capitol.
The roughly $132.5 billion budget is expected to reduce spending overall by over two percent.
The deal also restores $272 million of the governor's proposed $1.5 billion cut to education, including funding for schools for the deaf and blind. According to the deal, $86 million will be restored to CUNY and SUNY aid, along with $91 million in funding for social services – which could help keep senior centers open in New York City.
“We were able to achieve critical restorations, which will soften the cuts,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
"I hope this is the template for a new era of cooperation and productivity between the executive and the legislature. I'm hoping that this spirit of love, of euphoria that I feel is infectious and grows and continues," Cuomo told reporters.
Additionally, Cuomo says the deal would eliminate 3,700 prison beds, establish regional economic development councils, redesign Medicaid, and cap next year's education and Medicaid spending.
A proposed cap on medical malpractice awards did not make it into the budget, and neither did a tax on the state’s wealthiest residents.
“We still hope to convince our partners it’s the right thing to do,” said Silver.
The governor says the budget will include no new taxes and no borrowing, and will also cut next year's projected budget deficit from $15 billion down to about $2 billion.
Members of the State Senate and State Assembly will still have to vote on the individual bills that make up the proposed budget.
“New York State government is now functioning well on a bipartisan basis,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican.
If approved, this would be the third time since 1984 that a budget has been passed before the April 1 deadline.
And, while Governor Andrew Cuomo is riding high over his first budget deal, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not so happy.
He says restorations in school aid are not enough to avoid the layoffs he has warned about.
"We appreciate that some of the cuts in education aid were restored. But make no mistake: the final budget still cuts New York City more than ever before," said Bloomberg in a statement. "The restorations are merely a fraction of the 600 million dollarss necessary to avoid additional layoffs and cuts in the city’s budget."