Jan. 27, 2013
Over the past 10 days I have received over 100 pages of printed materials dealing with the Governor’s State of the State Address and his proposed 2013 State Budget. Although local governments have no vote on the State Budget we will be greatly impacted by it. The State Budget has more impact upon local taxes and finances than anything that occurs locally. Its impact is probably greater than most of the decisions made by the County Legislature. As a County Legislator I must pay close attention to the State Budget. Here are some of the highlights from the proposed 2013 State Budget:
– Much of the Budget deals with efforts to close a projected $1.35 billion fiscal gap. This is accomplished by various spending caps, hiring freezes, deferred or canceled “cost of living” adjustments, and by extensions or renewals of various taxes and fees that were scheduled to expire.
- State Office For the Aging funding will be cut by $2.25 million.
- General funding for Agriculture programs would remain unchanged. Several new initiatives to promote locally grown crops or products are proposed at a cost of about $2.2 million annually.
- Casino gaming is proposed at 7 new casinos in NYS. This requires a Constitutional Amendment that was adopted last year, but must be re-adopted in 2013 and then be submitted for a voter “Constitutional Referendum.”
- State funding for Community Colleges is proposed to remain unchanged at $2,272 per student per year.
- $50 million in new funding for the Regional Economic Development Councils is proposed. In addition, $5.0 is proposed for a new “Market NY” advertising campaign for New York grown products.
- A new program calling for 10 “Innovation Hot Spots” to promote economic growth is proposed. These “Innovation Hot Spots” would involve business incubator sites, exemption from State and local taxes for 5 years, and free services, office space and other business support.
- The Governor has proposed restrictions on tax benefits that can be offered to new businesses by local Industrial Development Agencies.
- There are proposed increases in SSI payments to reflect increased federal funding.
- The Budget maintains the County share of the “Safety Net Program” (Welfare) at 71%, compared to the State share of 29%.
- It proposes an increase in “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”) of approximately $83 million.
- Provides approximately $750 million in support for childcare subsidies for qualifying families.
- Proposes that the State pay the full cost of the mandated increase of District Attorney salaries for 2013.
- Proposes extensive reforms to the Workers Compensation program that will reportedly save employers $400 million per year.
- Proposes extensive changes in Medicaid to conform to Obamacare changes in health care services, and provides an additional $134 million in specific enhancements to various Medicaid programs.
- Rejected a proposal to share Medicaid savings with Counties. The State will keep all projected Medicaid savings.
- Proposes increasing the State minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $8.75/hour.
- Proposes a “Stable Rate Pension Contribution Option” to provide an alternative to massive increases in municipal pension contributions. This doesn’t reduce the amount paid, but postpones some costs to future years.
- Proposes changes in the Preschool Special Education Program that currently costs over $2 billion annually. Counties will continue to pay 40.5% of this program.
- Funds “Inter-Operable Communications Grants” at $102 million.
- Proposes restricting local District Attorney’s ability to Plea Bargain Traffic Tickets. It would increase “points” on drivers’ licenses, increase fines, but the State would take a larger share of those speeding fines.
- Proposes increasing fines for Driving While Texting or Using Cell Phones.
- Approves local Highway funding under the CHIPS and Marchiselli Programs at prior year levels.
Unfortunately, the proposed 2013 State Budget contains no significant Mandate Relief. Perhaps our State Legislators can insert some mandate relief over the next several months.