Governor Cuomo delivered his 4th Executive Budget Address at the Egg, in the Empire State Plaza. Two weeks after his State of the State speech, Cuomo said this is where ideas become reality.
“The budget process is in many ways the Seminole moment almost in any government. There’s no surprise that Washington grid locks when they go to do the budget, why because that’s where the money is, right? Why do you rob banks? That’s where the money is.”
Republican Conference Leader, Senator Dean Skelos expressed confidence in the proposal believing it can pass on time.
“The governor once again has presented an executive budget and I think we can work within, there’s obviously going to be some changes and legislative input, but I see no reason why we can’t have an early budget again this year for the fourth year in a row.”
Meanwhile, Senator Jeff Klein of the Independent Democratic Conference was luke warm about the governor’s budget.
“I think it was pretty heavy on business tax cuts, not enough on making sure that we invest in working families in New York.”
Other law makers like Syracuse Assemblyman Sam Roberts tried to look on the bright side of the proposal.
“I’m glad we have a $2-billion surplus versus the deficit, I’m glad that we’re out of that right now and that’s projected for the next couple of years.”
The governor put forward a robust plan that included a method to fund universal pre-k, something New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio championed during his campaign for mayor. Cuomo said it’s time to put the plan into action.
“The state will pay for it and the state will be proud to pay for it. It’s a priority, we believe in children, we believe in pre-k, we believe in education, let’s put our money where our mouth is and let’s make it a reality.”
However, Cuomo said his plan can exist without having to raise taxes on New York’s wealthiest residents. Legislators we spoke to had mixed reactions.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said it should work, as long as the funding is there.
“Clearly if the governor is providing some or all of the money, they the mayors… as long as it’s sustainable as long as its guaranteed going forward, then I think very clearly maybe only a tax would be needed for part of what’s overall needed.”
Senator Klein, on the other hand, stuck by the New York City mayor.
“I still stand behind Mayor de Blasio’s vision to ensure that 50,000 4-year olds in the city of New York have full time universal pre-k. The governor, I think, took us one step closer, in that vision by now putting forth a program for universal pre-k for all 4-year olds in the state of New York. I think moving forward we have to make sure that there is a dedicated steady funding stream, we have to make sure that it’s enough money. If we’re gonna do universal pre-k, full time universal pre-k we have to do it right this time.”
Not everyone was onboard with the governor’s proposal. Republican Senator Kathleen Marchione said there are more pressing educational issues facing the state.
“It’s a great idea, but in my school districts we don’t’ even have full day kindergartens and there are programs at our schools that [they] are having to not have any longer that are critical to the education today and we don’t have those because they don’t have enough money to continue with programs.”
Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright said he also had concerns.
“So he made his statement in terms of universal pre-kindergarten and how it all eventually comes out is another question once we in the legislature get our hands on the budget because we have different ways of wanting to spend money let’s say than the governor does and that’s what the budget process is all about, negotiation, compromise and having an on time budget by April 1.”
Budget hearings are set to begin on Monday and the governor, who is in a re-election year, is hoping to pass another on-time budget for the 4th year in a row.
The fiscal year begins April 1st.