Local
9:28 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Albany busy today passing budget bills

State lawmakers were headed for an on time state budget for the second year in a row that keeps spending relatively flat.

State legislators and Governor Cuomo have been touting the on time budget for the second year in a row that also, for the second time, reigns in spending.

Cuomo admits that most people would view that as lawmakers simply doing their job.

But he says in a state that has almost never met the budget deadline for over two decades, it’s a “big deal”.

“For many years it wasn’t done on time,” said Cuomo, who says it became a “metaphor” for the dysfunction in Albany.

The budget is winning praise from government reform groups as well.

The watchdog group Citizens Budget Commission says the spending plan contains far fewer gimmicks and one shot revenue raisers than in the past.

The Commission’s Betsy Lynam also credits Governor Cuomo with changing the terms of the debate and ending some of the budget games that had become an Albany tradition.

She says the 4% increases in school aid and health care funding this year were tied to indexes based on events in the real world.

The school funding increase was based on the personal income growth, and the health funding was tied to the medical component of the consumer price index.

“The conversation really has shifted,” said Lynam.

“It’s not about an endless request or the sky’s the limit on school aid.”

Lynam says the budget also came together more easily this year because of actions that began over a year ago, when Cuomo and lawmakers closed a $10 billion  projected deficit and set parameters for spending for a two year period.