The state budget process began in earnest last week, as the Legislature began its hearings to review Gov. Cuomo’s Executive budget proposal.

Last Monday, a number of mayors from throughout the state testified.  Upstate mayors warned state lawmakers that upstate cities are facing a fiscal crisis, and that some of them risk insolvency if state government does not help them address eroding local property tax bases and increasing state-imposed costs.  Gov. Cuomo’s pension proposal, which would reduce near-term employer pension payments but require higher contributions in later years, was a major topic of discussion. Comptroller DiNapoli has expressed “serious concerns” with the proposal.

On Tuesday, the topic was elementary and secondary education.  The Board of Regents is seeking a 3.5% increase in funds for New York State’s public schools, about $100 million more than what Gov. Cuomo proposes in his budget for the next fiscal year. The Regents propose a $75 million investment in full-day, pre-kindergarten programs for high-needs students.  The Regents are also requesting $1.5 million for development of new English language arts exams for ninth- and tenth-grade students and $500,000 for a pilot computer testing program.

Joint legislative budget hearings continue this week with Environmental Conservation, Housing, Human Services and Public Protection.

Also last week, each house of the Legislature released its initial budget analysis.  The Assembly Ways & Means Committee‘s Yellow Book, can be found here.  The Senate Finance Committee’s Staff Analysis of the 2013-14 Executive budget, known as the White Book, is here.

Finally, the legislative leaders issued the following a legislative budget schedule:

February 27

Senate/Assembly Fiscal Committee Economic & Revenue Reports Released

February 28

Joint Revenue Forecasting Conference

March 1

Revenue Consensus Report

March 11

Senate & Assembly budget actions

March 11

Joint Senate/Assembly budget conference committees commence

March 14

Final Report of Joint Conference Committee

March 18-21

Joint Legislative budget bills taken up by Senate & Assembly

April 1

First day of the 2013-14 state fiscal year