ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first budget proposal is drawing mixed reviews, with business groups praising plans to reduce spending while health, education and public employees advocates denounced cuts and layoffs.
‘Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a budget that finally addresses the need to reduce government spending and put New York on the road to recovery,” said Heather Briccetti, acting-president of The Business Council of New York State.
But Robert Tolbert, a board member of VOCAL New York, a coalition of community activist leaders, said the budget proposal puts too much burden on the poor and too little on the wealthy and corporations.
“By not extending the millionaire’s tax, Governor Cuomo is giving up one of the best tools we have to fix our state’s long-term revenue crisis,” Tolbert said. “Despite the governor’s rhetoric of shared sacrifice, this budget protects the Committee to Save New York and the real estate, big bank and big corporate interests they represent.”
Cuomo’s budget doesn’t call for extending a temporary income tax surcharge on New Yorkers making more than $200,000 a year, the so-called “millionaire’s tax” that Democrats in the Assembly are pushing to provide billions of dollars more in revenue.
William Van Slyke, spokesman for the Healthcare Association of New York State, says Cuomo’s proposed cut to Medicaid is “unprecedented” and will devastate some hospitals. Cuomo’s budget identifies a $1 billion cut in Medicaid spending but Van Slyke said the figure will be much higher over two years when the loss of the federal share is included.
“There’s a lot of fragile hospitals that just won’t be able to take these cuts,” he said.
Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore predicted larger class sizes and reductions in support services like counseling and math and reading help.
“Education cuts are cuts that don’t heal. A student that sits in an oversized class without support services for a year, you can’t undo the damage,” he said.
Kenneth Brynien, president of the Public Employees Federation, says the budget that could cut nearly 10,000 public sector jobs, would “cripple public services.”
Environmental groups found good news in Cuomo’s budget proposal. The budget calls for $134 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, the same as in the previous budget.
“We have to consider this a victory,” said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club. “Under the circumstances, it could have been much worse.”
A coalition of environmental groups had requested that the fund be restored to $222 million, the level approved by the Legislature two years ago.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)