Gov. Andrew Cuomo Unveils Budget, Proposes Major Pension & School Reforms

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new budget proposes major changes in New York State, but the devil is not so much in the financial details as it is in the reforms he wants.

Cuomo’s proposal would increase state spending by 2 percent, or about $89 million. However, the overall plan, including federal funding tied to state spending, is a fraction of 1 percent lower than the current budget. It would eliminate the $2 billion deficit.

LINK: Read More About The Budget Proposal

In past years, the big fight in Albany has been about how much is allocated to specific programs, but this year, it’s going to be very different and very difficult.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On Education Reform

“What we’re talking about here are major shifts. Don’t underestimate what we’re trying to achieve,” Cuomo said. “If you leave the status quo — if you do nothing — you won’t have the tension.  But if we leave the status quo, then we will have failed also.”

Instead of doing a regular budget that deals with things like how much money New York City, Westchester or Long Island get. Governor Cuomo is trying to use state money in a carrot and stick approach to get major and long overdue reforms, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

Those measures include pension reform and an evaluation plan for public school teachers.

“We need pension reform, we need it desperately,” Cuomo said.

The governor wants to reduce pension benefits in a big way for new employees hired by the state, the city and other localities.

Among the items in the plan include:

  • Increase the retirement age from 62 to 65
  • Offer employes an optional 401k plan instead of a state pension.
  • Eliminate overtime pay in calculating pensions.

The issue of overtime is by far the most controvertial part of the plan.

“The abuses of overtime are rampant, widespread and have gone on for years,” Cuomo said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg lauded pension reform included in the plan, which the mayor said could “save the City billions in the long-term.”

The governor also wants to overhaul the education system.  He’s threatening to withhold $800 million in school aid.  New York City would lose $224 million to districts who don’t adopt plans for getting rid of bad teachers, Kramer reported.

“Somewhere along the way, we’ve become more consumed with perpetuating the bureaucracy than focusing on achievement for the student,” Cuomo said.

Since this was the governor’s budget address, there are some financial initiatives that effect our area.

The governor wants the state to pick up a share of the Medicaid payments made by the city and other localities. The state will swallow $1.2 billion over 5 years — $954 million to New York.

The budget proposal also received strong support from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  In a statement, Bloomberg said the budget “demonstrates a bold commitment to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our great state.”

This year’s budget will not have the huge cuts in education and health care spending that were necessary last year as part of the effort to close a $10 billion budget gap.

“Last year was such a success — not because we did the easy thing, because we did the hard thing last year.  When you look back, it seems easy.  It wasn’t easy!  Look at the bags and lines on my face, it wasn’t easy,” Cuomo said

Hofstra University’s Larry Levy says the governor has set himself a hard task.

“It’s a great strategy to cloak anything in reform. If you take a cut, it’s reform. If you add anything, it’s reform. The trick is at the end of the day, to carry it out and be seen as a reformer and not just a talker,” Levy said.

What do you make of the proposal? Sound off in our comments section.

  • oldwolf49

    He looks high in that picture.

  • Something to think about

    Let’s get rid of all of the pensions and social security while we are at it. That way businesses can become Sweat Shops again and most people retire with very little. Just look at the private sector and what they have done. Business have become so competitive they barely match on 401k plans if anything at all and health insurance is becoming more out of reach for people. Let’s just become a third world country. Is it better to have poor retired people or retired people that have some guaranteed money for retirement?

  • M.A.D

    I sure hope that everything he said will happen.

  • PN

    How about making all politicians pay their own benefits and giving them merit based pay. Also make them work for at least 10 years before they qualify for a pension. Yeah people we pay their salaries but they would never think of cutting back on themselves.


    calculating pensions based on overtime is a system that has been abused for as long as i can remember and that about 60 years. i agree, it should be stopped.

  • LI Teacher

    As a teacher, I totally agree with the fact that the evaluation system and the way we cut jobs is done. The current system doesnt work and many times you lose the more effective teachers because of seniority. Tenure doesnt mean a teacher cannot be cut, it just protects them from administrators that may not like them personally. I had a principal not like me because I talked to the custodial staff and was friendly with them. How sad! I got away from this principal and the new one wouldnt give me up for anything. I hope an agreement can be made that will be in the best interest of all. One that keeps the good and gets rid of the bad. One that helps the students. One that helps the tax payers. One that help New York have the best education available. I believe a good teacher should be paid for all the schooling they take and have to keep on taking , but I am sickened by the teachers I see that are soley in it for the benefits. My biggest benefit is watching my students succeed. Let us all hope and pray that somehow this can be done in a fair way to all.

  • JGNY

    You want real fairness and equality ? Force the Union members to live with the same health plans, penison plans and benefits everyone else has. Why are they so special?
    I must contribute to my own plans, in addition my tax money pays for their benefits…boy do we get socked. What BS>

    • Gerry Attrick

      Public employees DO contribute toward their healths plans. As a matter of fact they do so doubly: They contribute via a deduction from their paycheck AND they contribute by paying taxes [YES, public employees pay taxes]. BTW, all of you who bash public employees seem to imply that you are paying for public sector salaries & benefits & getting no benefit in return. Remember, these people teach your children, collect your trash, provide medical care to you & your loved ones in an emergency, and many of them risk their lives and health by catching criminals and entering burning buildings to protect you. Sadly, the good people who provide excellent city services are being attacked by politicians in an effort to hide the real thieves: rich corporate executives, private consultants, millionaires & billionaires.

    • Melissa

      You should educate yourself before speaking. What you are saying is false and greedy. If everyone thinks that because someone is unionized that they get so much money and everything is so much better, then why doesn’t the private sector fight for better rights instead of trying to take away from other people.

      • AJ

        Melissa, you mean private sector employees. How much do you think your insurance will rise if insurance claims people, underwriters, inspectors and staff agents are able to unionize? How many more fees would you pay if bank reps and investment workers unionize?. How much more will businesses pay and pass onto you for union HR reps, bookkeepers and accountants? Lets not leave out the gas station attendant and quicky mart employees. If every non-unionized sector of the economy were to unionize, you would be unable to afford much more than is out of your reach now. Education has gone too far where I live, earning $100k+, cadillac health care and taxpayer-paid pensions. I get $400 increases on my school tax bill every year, but I only received 2 raises over 5 years that after income taxes, barely paid for the school increasees. Where is the fairness in that, huh Melissa? Non-union people could clear those streets just as quickly, probably faster because they are not lazy union workers.

  • Concern

    BOX TOP$ for EDUCATION, Coupon Exchange, LABELS FOR EDUCATION, Charity Search Engines,,, Whole Foods Market 5% Donation Days, &

  • AJ is an idiot

    401K’s like the rest of us? So my retirement savings can lose 40% of it’s value overnight? Please? It’s taken 30 years of fighting for the rights of those poorly paid teachers to achieve some sense of financial security today. If anything, I’d blame the decline of trade unions to your present situation today.

    • al p

      have you taken a look at the wages of thos “poorly paid” teachers from Long Island? I wish I was so poorly paid (100k per year plus bennies). As far as a 401k There is one already in place. Its called a 414h. But you have to add the tax break back into your state tax return.

  • AJ

    End teacher pensions. make them pay into 401k plans like the rest of us. Most workers are not union but are forced to fund pensions of people who earn more, have much better health coverage, and way better vacation time thanks to their unions. The NY Education System is elitist at the expense of a majority of taxpayers who don’t fare as well financially. End tenure. When teacher jobs paid poorly, tenure was devised as compensation along with good benefits. Now that teachers have climbed over the private sector in total compensation, they should not be protected from the ax that all non-union workers are subject to. If the governor can’t do these 2 things, he is a servant of the unions and not looking out for the majority of property tax paying New Yorkers. Education has grown too big and become too inefficient.

    • Melissa

      Fight for your rights as a public sector employee then. If you want better health coverage and more vacation time then fight for it, stop complaining and DO SOMETHING. Guess you would rather be lazy and just complain. When we had the blizzard last year did you walk two miles to work in the middle of the night? I doubt it, but my husband the city UNION worker did.

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