Updated 01/17/2012 11:07 PM
Cuomo Crafts Budget On Public Pension, Teacher Evaluation Reform
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Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday proposed an overhaul to the state's pension system and new teacher evaluation system while presenting his $132.5 billion budget plan for the next fiscal year.
The plan reduces overall spending by .2 percent from last year.
In a PowerPoint presentation, Cuomo said his executive budget includes no new taxes, one shot revenues or gimmicks.
It also closes a budget gap of $3.5 billion.
However, while the governor plans to increase education spending by 4 percent or roughly $805 million, he also plans to make that increase contingent upon real reform and, specifically, teacher evaluations.
He's giving the state's teachers 30 days to come up with a statewide evaluation system or he will write his own into the budget for the legislature to approve.
Districts would have one year to get the new system up and running or the state would withhold the promised 4 percent increase in school aid.
"Somewhere along the way we've become more consumed with perpetuating the bureaucracy than focusing on achievement for the student," said Cuomo.
Medicaid spending will also go up by 4 percent. The state plans to take over the growth of Medicaid, which will eventually save New York City $954 million over five years.
Another major item outlined by Cuomo is a new public pension tier, similar to a 401k.
It would feature progressive contribution rates between 4 and 6 percent, with shared risks and rewards for employees and the state.
The move is expected to save taxpayers and local governments across the state over $100 million over the next 30 years.
"By definition, pension reform is not gonna cost you, save you anything in the year it's enacted. By definition it's on the out years. But what we're doing to ourselves here is allowing cholesterol to build up and we see the number going up, up, up, up, up," said Cuomo.
However, union leaders are already pushing back on that proposal.
The budget also includes $15 billion in infrastructure spending.
The upgrades are expected to create thousands of jobs, including the proposed construction of the country's largest convention center in Queens.
Cuomo, who again touted the project being developed by Genting Americas, shrugged off critics who don't want it by insisting that no public funds will be used.
"It's their money, their capital, their risk, their cost. They build it, they operate it," said Cuomo.
The governor vowed to repeat what happened last year and bring in the budget on time.
"I wanted to start on time today because I want to end on time, not just today, but when we finish the budget," said Cuomo.
Some say chronically late budgets had come to symbolize dysfunction in Albany. It’s a culture Cuomo vowed to change.