Governor, Legislature leaders announce consensus on state budget
Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office
ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie today announced an agreement on the 2015-16 state budget.
The budget agreement includes landmark education reforms and investment, an ethics package with the nation’s strongest disclosure laws for legislators with outside income, and new investments in rebuilding and growing the state’s economy, including $1.5 billion for the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and $500 million to make New York the first in the nation to have statewide broadband.
The budget agreement holds spending growth below 2 percent for the fifth consecutive year, continuing a record of fiscal discipline that has reversed decades of state budgets where spending grew at a higher rate than inflation or personal income growth.
Governor Cuomo said: “With this agreement, we address intractable problems that have vexed our state for generations. After decades of leading the nation in education spending but lagging in results, New York will set an example for all other states with a complete overhaul of the entrenched education bureaucracy. These reforms – accompanied by an unprecedented financial investment – will put students first by bringing accountability to the classroom, recruiting and rewarding our best teachers, further reducing over-testing, and finally confronting our chronically failing schools.
“I said I would not sign a budget without real ethics reform, and this budget does just that, putting in place the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive rules for disclosure of outside income by public officials, reforming the long-abused per diem system, revoking public pensions for those who abuse the public’s trust, defining and eliminating personal use of campaign funds, and increasing transparency of independent expenditures.
“This is a budget that all New Yorkers can be proud of.
“I commend Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Skelos, and their colleagues in the Legislature for their hard work and leadership in reaching this agreement.”
The budget agreement includes spending in the following categories:
Total State Operating Funds: $94.25 billion; 2.0% growth
School Aid: $23.5 billion; 6.1% growth
Medicaid: $17.741 billion; 4.6% growth
Funds from financial settlements: $5.4 billion, including $1.5 billion for the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and $500 million to make New York the first in the nation to have statewide broadband.
Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said: “I am pleased that we have arrived at a responsible budget agreement that lives within the 2 percent spending cap, rejects tax increases and meets the needs of every region of this state – reflecting the priorities of our Senate Republican conference. Thanks to a dramatic reduction in the Gap Elimination Adjustment along with an overall school aid increase of approximately $1.4 billion, students will continue to have the resources they need to learn and thrive.
“The budget also includes a blueprint for significant new reforms designed to improve performance in the classroom, reduce over-testing and promote excellence in teaching. In addition, we make sound investments in our infrastructure to create new jobs and encourage the private sector to build and grow. Working together, the Legislature and governor have also significantly tightened up the state’s ethics and disclosure laws to improve transparency and restore the public’s trust. I thank the governor, Speaker Heastie, Senator Klein and all of the members of the Senate and Assembly for their hard work and contributions to this year’s enacted budget, which we expect to pass on time before April 1.”
Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie said: “Throughout this budget process, the Assembly Majority pledged to stand strong for New York’s families. This financial plan provides historic increases in education funding for our children, funds our Higher Education Road to Success initiative, provides safe and affordable housing for a growing number of New Yorkers who are on the brink of homelessness, and grows our economy.
“I am particularly proud that this agreement builds upon our core values to strengthen our families, uplift our communities, and restore faith in our government. I thank Governor Cuomo and our colleagues in the Senate for their hard work in crafting a budget that will help move New York forward.”
The governor’s office said more details about the budget will be released on Monday.