The Legislature’s budget review hearings continued this week, as budget hearings were held on Higher Education, Taxes and Economic Development.  In addition, the Governor submitted his 21-day budget amendments to the Legislature.

On Monday, State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor Nancy Zimpher asked state legislators to provide an additional $19.9 million in funding to public universities, in addition to the $969 million proposed in Gov. Cuomo’s budget.

On Tuesday, state Tax Commissioner Thomas Mattox was asked about the budget’s proposed “look back period” for the STAR school tax break program that is intended to weed out “double dippers.”  If enacted, New Yorkers will have to once again sign up for the property tax break next year. The STAR program provides more than $3 billion a year in school tax relief to homeowners across the state by exempting a portion of a dwelling’s assessed value.  Currently, taxpayers register for STAR one time with their local assessors, but the new protocol would require that they sign up with the state Tax Department. Mattox said they would launch a campaign, using mail and phone calls, to remind people to register.  Lawmakers expressed concern that thousands of homeowners would not know that they have to sign up again, and would face higher tax bills.

On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo submitted his 21-day amendments to the Legislature.  The amendments were largely technical in nature.  Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Center) issued a statement expressing disappointment that the Governor did not remove from the budget his proposal to extend the “18-a” energy tax for an additional five years.  Unshackle Upstate shares Senator Skelos’s view of this onerous, hidden tax – it should be allowed to expire, if not repealed outright.

Gov. Cuomo has until Feb. 21 – this Thursday — to submit his 30-day budget amendments to the Legislature. These amendments are expected to be much more substantive in nature.

Once those are proposed, we expect the budget negotiations to really heat up.