Cuomo proposes hike in school aid in state budget

WWNY-Cuomo Budget

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his 2021 executive budget Tuesday, calling for some record spending in some areas despite the state facing a $6 billion deficit.

Cuomo, when addressing the deficit, said there will be no cuts, but the state will “reduce growth.”

Cuomo proposed increasing school aid by $826 million, which would bring the total annual investment to a record $28.5 billion. He’s promising a significant amount of money will go to poorer school districts.

“That may bode well for poorer school districts in northern New York,” said Assemblyman Mark Walczyk (R. - 116th District). “But again, the devil will be in the details.”

The governor is also proposing a new school aid funding formula.

“The goal is what a wealthy school gets, a poor school should get,” Cuomo said. “It doesn’t matter what zip code you’re born in, it doesn’t matter what county you’re born in, you have the same access to education.”

Cuomo also wants to lower the corporate tax rate for small businesses from 6.5 percent to 4 percent. He says the 40 percent reduction will benefit 36,000 taxpayers and save them $35 million.

The proposed budget looks to close the $6 billion deficit by limiting spending growth to 1.9 percent in state operating funds and by finding savings in the Medicaid budget. (See page 8 of the FY 2021 Executive Budget Briefing Book)

Cuomo will create a new Medicaid Redesign Team, or MRT II. The MRT II will work to find cost-containment measures to save the state $2.5 billion, without shifting the cost of Medicaid increases onto local governments.

“It holds local governments harmless," Cuomo said. "I know many of them are fearing that we would go back and undo what we did in 2013 by assuming their Medicaid, we don’t do that.”

Instead, the state will continue to pay the entire increase in Medicaid costs for local governments with strings attached.

Counties will have to stay within the 2 percent property tax cap and control Medicaid costs to 3 percent growth per year, or pay the total spending growth.

“My problem is again, what is the details on how we’re gonna do that?” Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R. - 117th District) said. “And I’m worried that money will still fall back on our local governments.”

The Democratic governor has warned of a tough budgetary season and says he won’t support new taxes to help close the gap.

His proposal will cover the next state budget that starts April 1. The state Legislature must approve the spending plan.

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