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Cuomo's budget boosts school aid, promises no tax increases

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cuomo Photo Credit: Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rolled out his 2012-13 state budget proposal Tuesday, warning that school districts that don't implement a new teacher-evaluation system in a year will lose their share of a planned increase in education aid.

In a financial plan that was largely settled months ago, Cuomo is making teacher evaluations one of the centerpieces of his legislative agenda. He also proposed creating a new, cheaper pension package for future government employees -- offering them, for the first time, a new 401K-style retirement plan.

The Democratic governor proposed a $132.5 billion budget, a 0.2% decline from the current fiscal year.

"No new taxes, no new fees, no surprises. This is not a Cracker Jack box -- you won't find anything at the bottom," Cuomo said to lawmakers.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg lauded the budget proposal and planned pension reform, saying they "could save the city billions in the long term." The governor's office estimates $30 billion over 30 years.

Other highlights from the governor's plan include:

•Have the state take over growth in Medicaid spending, saving counties an estimated $1.2 billion over five years.

•Provide the MTA's capital program $770 million over a multi-year period, and keeping the agency fully funded.

•Reduce state agencies' spending by 1.4%.

•Raise state college tuition by $300, bringing it to $5,270 for full-time students -- a step that lawmakers approved last year -- while keeping overall higher education spending flat.

(with Newsday)

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