Last Wednesday night, Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senator Dean Skelos and Senator Jeff Klein announced that they had reached “conceptual agreement” on a 2013-14 state budget.  The $135.1 billion budget (which totals $143 billion when federal money related to Super Storm Sandy is included) will increase the state’s minimum wage in three phases, and reduce personal income taxes by $650 million over several years.
Read Gov. Cuomo’s press release, or watch the press conference.

The budget agreement includes:

–          a $1 billion increase in education aid;

–          an increase in the state’s minimum wage in three steps, from $7.25 to $9.00 in 2016;

–          changes to the Workers Compensation and Unemployment Insurance programs;

–          the renewal of personal income tax rates adopted in 2011 for an additional three years (including an extension of the millionaire’s tax and the slightly lower rates for people reporting between $20,000 and $200,000) which will otherwise expire at the end of 2014;

–          a child tax credit of $350 per-year for three years (the credit will be delivered as a check beginning in 2014);

–          funding for the  Innovation Hot Spots program that will create or designate ten high-tech innovation incubators at locations affiliated with higher education institutions;

–          includes a third round of the Regional Economic Development Councils including $150 million in new funding and $70 million in tax credits

–          a third round of the SUNY 2020 program and the new CUNY 2020 program to provide competitive grants for projects “that connect economic development and academic excellence”;

–          creation of the Market NY program to promote Upstate tourism and agriculture;

–          an extension of the 18-a energy surcharge, which was set to expire in 2014; and

–          a pension stabilization program that is intended to provide local governments access to short term relief as the savings of Tier VI begin to take effect.

There is a good deal of “magic” in this budget.  Our elected leaders are hoping that you will forget that they just dipped their hands into your wallet and took your hard earned money.