Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 21, 2013

State budget details surface, so does criticism

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — The independent Citizens Budget Commission on Thursday called the latest three-year extension a "short-sighted, politically expedient deal."

The extension "continues the state's reliance on a small number of high earners and reduces New York's competitiveness," stated the CBC's analysis called "A Disappointing Tax Deal."

The CBC said the leaders are extending a "temporary" tax increase that was created to address a fiscal crisis in 2009, but now using it for "poorly targeted tax relief." The CBC says that sends the wrong message to wealthy New Yorkers who the state has long depended for most of its tax revenues.

Without the ill-advised tax extension in the budget deal, "the money is not there to spend on newly created rebate and credit program," the CBC said.

The commission, however, credits the budget deal for keeping the spending increase under 2 percent and for being on track to approving a spending plan on time — by April 1 — for the third straight year.

"Two years ago, our state was facing significant challenges, with constant spending and tax increases chasing businesses and people from our state and scandals making our government a joke," Cuomo said Thursday. "Today's agreement shows New York is on the move and is rising once again."

Some advocates for the poor also had a chance to review the centerpiece of the budget deal, an increase in the minimum wage to $9 that would be spread over three years without automatic increases tied to inflation. The $7.25-an-hour wage would rise to $8 in January, $8.75 a year later and cap at $9 a year after that.

"Eight dollars is morally unacceptable," said Mark Dunlea of the Hunger Action Network. He called a $9 wage "pathetically low."

The tentative deal for a New York state budget includes several measures for schools, which will see a bump of nearly $1 billion in the state's more than $20 billion school aid fund. That's an increase over the $890 million hike Cuomo proposed before the legislative negotiations took place.

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