Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 08 April 2011 00:00
After all the protests and disagreements, after all the proposals and changes, New York State has an on-time budget for the first time in 15 years and just a third on-time budget in 28 years.
New York State passed its $132.5 billion budget on March 31 at around 1:00 a.m., just in time for the April 1 deadline. Overall spending will be cut $3.5 billion (2 percent) from the current year and closes a $10 billion deficit without raising taxes.
The budget included cuts in education aid ($1.3 billion or about 6 percent), Medicaid ($1 billion or about 2 percent) and state operations (10 percent).
Over $272 million in education aid was restored after Governor Andrew Cuomo’s initial budget proposal. The budget also called for eliminating numerous discrete cuts, such as making graduate students ineligible for the state’s Tuition Assistance Program.
Nassau County’s school aid in 2010-2011 totaled at $815,053,277. The county saw a $33.6 million decrease to $781,373,688 for 2011-2012.
Concerning local districts, the Massapequa School District has been hit with a 6.04 percent ($1,425.610) decrease in education aid for 2011-2012. The district’s total aid is $25,031,441, one of the highest on Long Island.
The Plainedge School District will receive $16,852,596 in state aid. That represents a 1.62 percent decrease, totaling $277,118.
Education cuts were received much scrutiny in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initial budget. In this version of the budget, funding for 4201 schools, such as the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, will not come out of the local schools’ pockets, which was slated to happen in Gov. Cuomo’s proposal. This change, lawmakers said, with the 4201 schools is another $98 million in savings.
One item that didn’t make it into this year’s budget discussions is the possible repeal of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) payroll tax. The tax accounts for approximately $1.4 billion of the MTA’s budget.
One issue resolved by budget negotiations is the fate of Long Island Bus (LIB). On April 1, the MTA, Nassau County and Senate Republicans, led by Senator Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) and Senator Jack Martins (R-C-I, Mineola) announced an agreement to stave off proposed cuts to Long Island Bus that would have affected more than half of the bus routes in Nassau County.
The MTA proposed cutting 27 of the 48 Long Island Bus routes this summer due to a lack of funding. The cuts would have impacted about 16,000 riders.
Over $8.6 million in MTA allocations, made available by the Senate, will be utilized to run the bus service through the end of the year. This is in addition to the $52.4 million funds appropriated in the 2011-2012 state budget for Long Island Bus.
The agreement has hailed by both MTA executives and County Executive Edward P. Mangano.
“We are grateful to Senators Fuschillo, Skelos and Martins for their leadership in finding a path forward for Long Island Bus and the customers who rely on its service every day,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder. “As a result, we will be able to continue operating service at current levels through the end of the year. We will work with the County to ensure a smooth transition to its private operator by December 31.”
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano stated:
“I applaud the efforts of our Nassau County State Senators for working with me to come together in support of our residents that rely on Long Island Bus for their transportation needs,” added County Executive Mangano. “Their assistance ensures that all current bus routes will remain intact. I remain committed to fostering communication and working with the MTA to ensure a smooth transition as we enter a public-private partnership starting January 2012. This public-private partnership will enable us to provide comparable bus routes at a much more affordable rate to Nassau County taxpayers.”
—-Joe Scotchie contributed to this article.