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Long IslandPolitics

Cuomo unveils 2013-14 state budget Tuesday

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks in

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany. (Jan. 7, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is set to unveil a spending plan Tuesday that he says will be notable for its lack of surprises.

The Democrat, entering his third year in office, has agreed already to propose modest increases in school aid, potentially eliminating one of the traditional flashpoints of the budget. Some insiders expect Cuomo to, as in years past, offer a competitive grants program for a portion of school aid. And others predict a proposal to raise wages for some health care workers and to pair a minimum-wage hike with tax cuts for small businesses.

But some GOP legislators said Monday that they'd like to see one thing that has been missing from previous Cuomo budgets: a vigorous plan for cutting costs borne by local governments.

"I can tell you, from the perspective of local governments and school districts, mandate relief is it," said Assemb. Andrew Raia (R-Huntington), referring to state budget priorities. He said that school districts, trying to stay within the new 2-percent cap on tax increases, are weighing closures and program cuts.

Republicans noted the subject, referred to as "mandate relief," wasn't mentioned in Cuomo's State of the State address.

"I'm hoping [Cuomo] has some serious proposals in the budget," said Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore). "He has a [mandate relief] commission, but he needs to go beyond that. We need to rollback expenses on Medicaid. We need to start restricting some services."

New York has for years had the nation's most expensive Medicaid program and it requires local governments to cover a portion of the costs.

Cuomo will outline his 2013-14 budget plans Tuesday afternoon. According to his two-year financial plan issued last year, he is committed to a roughly $712 million (3.5 percent) increase in the 2013-14 education aid.

Last week, Cuomo said the news will be that there's no big news in the budget. "I wouldn't say there's any big surprises," Cuomo said. "The budget is not supposed to be a traumatic episode. If you do the budget right, it's not supposed to be any startling revelations year to year."

In his State of the State address earlier this month, Cuomo advocated a plan to develop three casinos upstate, rebuild areas devastated by superstorm Sandy and privatize the Long Island Power Authority. It's unclear how whether any of those initiatives would be included in his budget proposal.

Cuomo previously said he expects the state to face a $1 billion deficit. Still, state revenue is lagging. A state comptroller's report issued Friday said that, as of December, revenues are $685 million below what the Cuomo administration predicted last April, the start of the fiscal year.

Cuomo cut spending in his first budget and kept it flat in his second -- a trend the legislature's top Republican, Senate co-leader Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre, hopes will continue.

"A sound [budget] will exercise real spending restraint, balance the budget without raising taxes or fees, and help the private sector create new jobs for hardworking families so we can build on the progress we've already made," said Skelos spokesman Scott Reif.

The Democratic-led Assembly is focusing on resources for schools and the needy. "We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to craft a sound budget that ensures our schools have the resources they need and that programs serving our most vulnerable citizens are adequately funded," said Michael Whyland, spokesman for Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).

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