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Politics & Government

No Mention of Spending Cuts in Cuomo's Budget Plan Irks State Lawmaker; Education Funds Fall Short


A state lawmaker from Cayuga County says there’s one big omission in Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal that could help erase some of the state’s red ink:

"It should be quite apparent there's another way of raising revenue.  It's called cutting spending.   The addition of new programs he's proposed..we have to raise revenue to cover it at a time he claims we have a huge deficit."

But Republican Assemblymember Gary Finch wonders how there can be a $4.4 billion budget gap when brokers on Wall Street are making large amounts of money in a booming stock market.  He says the resulting tax revenue feeds the state’s coffers to the tune of about ten percent.  Finch WAS glad to hear was a commitment to control algal blooms on the Finger Lakes.

"They're economic engines in and of themselves for tourism.  They provide water for drinking and dairies.  They're our number one natural resource."

Also weighing in on the budget are Syracuse-area public education funding advocates, who say the governor’s proposal falls short.  Executive Director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium Doctor Rick Timbs says the three percent increase in school aid just isn’t adequate.

Dr. Rick Timbs says Gov. Cuomo's education allocation should have increased by four percent, not the three percent he proposed. State lawmakers could change that during budget negotiations.

"Schools are faced with a number of mandates that cause costs to escalate.  Because of the tax cap, and schools are reluctant to increase or challenge the cap, schools have become more state aid dependent."

The governor did commit 70 percent of education aid to poorer districts.  Timbs applauds the move, but says more districts could use the money than he’s actually helping.

"I think he's starting to move in that direction, but at the same time, the amount of money being distributed is simply insufficient compared to the escalation of costs.  As a matter of fact, a large number of these districts aren't getting an increase in foundation aid that's equal to inflation."

Timbs says districts will be forced to dip into their reserves to make up the difference and avoid impacting the classroom.  He adds that Cuomo’s continued support of charter schools is problematic, not only because they drain resources from public schools, but they also don’t have to meet state mandates and don’t get audited by the comptroller.