Budget

New York State 2014-15 Budget

The constitution empowers the Governor to shape the budget and restricts the Legislature’s ability to change the Governor’s proposals. The Assembly and Senate hold joint hearings on the Governor’s proposed executive budget and then pass resolutions reflecting their priorities. After negotiations to reconcile these different priorities, both houses pass a final budget and the Governor can sign it, veto it or eliminate any item through a “line item” veto.

The Legislature passed the State’s fourth consecutive on time budget – the first time in over forty years. The $142.8 billion budget holds spending growth below two percent for the fourth year in a row. This year, the Assembly again improved the proposed Executive Budget to enhance funding critical to Westchester residents. The budget contained some good measures and some disappointments.

Taxes
The budget continues the lowest middle class income tax rate in over fifty years. However, it grants significant additional permanent tax breaks to wealthy individuals and businesses.

Property Tax Relief
To lower property taxes, the State needs to pay more of the cost of education. The Assembly proposal to increase aid to localities was not included in the final budget. The budget gives homeowners certain property tax reimbursements for two years if the local government or school district meets specified conditions.

Education
The budget makes a record high investment in elementary and secondary education. It establishes a new statewide full-day universal pre-kindergarten program. It provides enough State funds to meet all of New York City’s pre-k needs, but unfortunately, only enough to start the program elsewhere. The budget makes a record $22.3 billion investment in public education, increasing school aid by $1.15 billion or 5.4% – $551 million more than the Governor proposed. This includes an additional $250 million Foundation Aid and an additional $600 million restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). Assemblyman Abinanti’s advocacy insured that his school districts benefited from additional Foundation Aid and restoration of the GEA.

Health
The budget provided $128.2 billion for two years to the Department of Health, $14 million more than the Governor proposed, increasing State spending by $9 billion or 7.5%. The budget increased support for several significant public health measures including rape crisis centers ($1.8 million), infertility services ($1 million), family planning services ($750,000) and the Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund ($5 million). The budget also expanded consumer rights and protections for those who need and/or receive out-of-network services by providing protection from “surprise medical bills,” the right to go out-of-network at the in-network rate in specific medical circumstances, improved network adequacy, improved disclosure information and new options to submit claims.

People with Special Needs
The budget provides $4.43 billion to the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), $8.3 million more than the Governor proposed, but decreasing State spending by $210 million or 4.7%. The budget provides $3.65 billion to the Office of Mental Health (OMH), $3.4 million more than the Governor proposed, increasing State spending by $200 million. The budget increases the minimum amount of funding that must be reinvested for new community services to $110,000 for every OMH inpatient bed that is eliminated through the closing of large facilities.

Environment
The budget provides $920 million for the Department of Environmental Conservation, less than the Assembly had proposed but still an increase of $21 million over last year. The budget provides $162 million for the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a $9 million increase above last year’s budget – but well below the 2007 all-time high of $250 million. The increase results from the Assembly’s $5 million commitment on top of $4 million added in the Executive Budget. The budget also provides $92.5 million in capital funds to complete some major infrastructure projects in state parks.

Transportation and Infrastructure
The budget provides $10.2 billion for the Department of Transportation (DOT), a $44.5 million increase over the Governor’s proposal. The budget provides $3.4 billion to fund transportation infrastructure capital improvement projects throughout the State aimed at keeping roads, highways and bridges in good repair and supporting rail and aviation infrastructure, a decrease of $233 million or 6.4% from 2013-14. Following advocacy by Assemblyman Abinanti and others, the budget provides an additional $40 million to supplement the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) as aid to local governments.

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Westchester’s 2010 Budget:  Protecting Services, Saving Money

When he was a County Legislator, Tom Abinanti worked to refashion Westchester government. The goal: keep County property taxes down while preserving services which are essential to our quality of life.

In December 2009, The Board of Legislators approved a $1.8 billion Budget for 2010 which cuts proposed County spending by $1 million and covers anticipated revenue losses with a 2.9% property tax increase.

The final budget approved by the Board actually did spend less than the County Executive proposed and cuts his proposed tax increase almost in half – all in the face of anticipated sales, mortgage, & hotel tax shortfalls of $51 million and increased mandated expenses of $70 million.

In its efforts to be fiscally responsible, the Board planned the merger of two departments, defunded positions then vacant or expected to become vacant, provided no salary increases and eliminated most of the County’s subsidy of the Westchester Medical Center.

It maintained vital services affecting Westchester’s quality of life and continued to share county sales tax revenues with localities and school districts.