Updated 03/27/2012 08:47 PM
Cuomo, Legislature announce tentative budget deal
It looks like we may have another on-time budget. Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders have announced a tentative deal on a $132.6 billion spending plan that could be passed as early as Friday. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has the details.
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NEW YORK STATE -- Governor Andrew Cuomo has reached a tentative deal with state lawmakers on a $132.6 billion spending package that could be completed at the end of the week, a day before Saturday's deadline. Cuomo says this budget was in respects harder than last year, when he inherited a $10 billion deficit.
“This year, in some ways, the degree of difficulty went up by our own ambition. We laid forth a very ambitious agenda in the State of the State in the budget, because the state needed it. Right? The needs were that great,” Cuomo said.
But Cuomo did not get Senate Republicans to sign off on creating a statewide health insurance exchange marketplace, part of the federal health care overhaul that is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court. Cuomo says he'll create New York's exchange by executive order this week.
“The legislature has declined to include a health exchange in the budget so we will set it up by executive order,” Cuomo said.
While it provides political cover for Republicans who wouldn't want to enact the law in New York, it also has Senate Democrats cheering.
“It is necessary because, unfortunately, my colleagues in the Republican conference refused to go ahead and include this in the budget,” said Senate Minority Leader John Sampson.
Aside from the likelihood of the process ending early, the budget process was unusual for Albany in other ways. Lawmakers had already signed off spending targets for education and health care when Cuomo engineered a $2.6 billion tax code overhaul. He also achieved victories earlier this month with a new cheaper retirement system for future employees. This, coupled with a phased-in assumption of Medicaid costs, helps local governments.
“So between the pension reform and picking up the Medicaid three percent, that is a big deal for local governments,” Cuomo said.
And unlike that pension mega deal from earlier this month, lawmakers say they'll pass this budget in the light of day.
“There will be no messages of necessity. The bills will be aged for three days. All members, public, the press, will be able to look at the bills. We'll start passing them on Wednesday and we'll complete the rest on Friday,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Looking ahead, a battle over increasing the state's minimum wage is brewing, with powerful Speaker Sheldon Silver still pushing the issue.
“I think we'll deal with the post budget session post budget. We put the budget to rest,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.