Gov. Cuomo’s last opportunity to amend his Executive Budget proposal is this coming Friday, Feb. 20th.
This week’s legislative budget hearings focused on taxes, economic development and higher education.
On Monday morning, lawmakers reviewed the tax-related provisions of Gov. Cuomo’s Executive budget. The Governor is proposing a new tax on health insurance plans to pay for the state’s health care exchange, as well as a $1.7 real property tax “circuit breaker” that would shifts the property tax burden, but fails to deliver property tax relief to businesses across the state.
Among other provisions, the Governor is proposing to crack down on abuses in the state’s STAR rebate program by suspending STAR benefits for homeowners who owe more than $4,500 in back taxes, and allowing the state Tax Department to recover STAR benefits that were improperly granted in previous years. The Governor is also proposing to lower the threshold of outstanding taxes owed to suspend a debtor’s driver’s license, currently $10,000, to $5,000.
At Monday afternoon’s hearing on economic development, state lawmakers questioned whether the state’s economic development programs are really working. Other lawmakers expressed concerns about the Governor’s latest economic development competition proposal, in which seven upstate New York regions would battle over a share of $1.5 billion, but just three regions will emerge as winners.
At Wednesday’s hearing, SUNY leaders requested $3 billion over five years to repair buildings at its 64 campuses. Chancellor Nancy Zimpher also urged the state Legislature to continue a $300-a-year tuition increase. [Read her written testimony here.]
While SUNY leaders are requesting a 17.5% state aid increase, Gov. Cuomo has proposed a 1.7% increase for SUNY, including $200 million to repair aging facilities.