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Mr. Cuomo’s numbers

In the annual State of the State address, New York’s governor gets to outline a bold vision and ambitious agenda without too much concern for the details-such as how to pay for all of it. That part comes a couple of weeks later, with presentation of the executive budget proposal.
There is no shortage of numbers in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013-14 budget plan, released on Tuesday. So much so that digesting them is no simple process. But in large part, it seems, Mr. Cuomo has continued to buff his credentials as a fiscally responsible state leader.
Some highlights from his spending plan:

The "all funds"spending of $136.5 billion in the fiscal year that begins April 1 contains a modest increase of $2.5 billion or 1.9 percent from 2012-13. The hike in state operating funds spending totaling $90.8 billion is even less-$1.4 billion, or 1.6 percent.

The plan eliminates a projected $1.3 billion budget gap. Indeed, he notes that the expected gap for 2013-14 was $17.4 billion before gap-closing measures in his first two budgets.

It also includes nearly $1 billion in savings from "government redesign and cost control efforts."

The Cuomo budget also promises "sweeping reform of the state’s complex and inefficient workers’ comp system that will provide $900 million in savings to employers, local governments and school districts without affecting the rights of workers."

Even as Mr. Cuomo keeps a tight grip on overall state spending, he finds room for a third round of the regional economic development council process. And he wants to launch an Innovation Hot Spots program calling for 10 high-tech incubators.
Is all this too good to be true? That might be overstating things. But anything as complex as the state budget demands close scrutiny.
Does it really contain "no new taxes or fees"? Even a quick glance suggests that probably isn’t so.
And some new ideas certainly prompt questions. One is the Stable Rate Pension Contribution Option, which some observers quickly labeled as a scheme to push liabilities into the future through borrowing.

That said, Mr. Cuomo’s opening move in this year’s budget process is a good starting point.

1/25/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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