The New York State Legislature finally reached an agreement on a state budget last week, a little more than a week past the deadline. This was the latest budget during Governor Cuomo’s time in office (although quite shy of the 2-4 month late budgets of the late ’90s and early 00’s). You can click here to see the final bill and get an understanding of why it is referred to as “The Big Ugly.”
The following is a top-line look at some of the key issues. For more detail, please see NYSUT’s detailed summary (from which this post was excerpted and modified). For the sake of comparison, if you want to look back at what NYSUT was advocating for and what the individual houses were proposing, please see this prior post.
- The budget includes an increase of $1 billion in school aid, which includes an increase of $700 million in Foundation Aid and fully funds expense based aids. This is far less than is needed just to maintain everything at last year’s level.
- The proposal to eliminate the Foundation Aid Formula was defeated.
- The Millionaire’s tax was extended for two years, without any progressive expansion.
- Funding for Teacher Centers was restored and increased by $5.74 million, for a total of $20 million.
- The proposal to eliminate or increase the charter cap was defeated, as was the proposal to unfreeze charter school tuition rates which would have provided these schools with hundreds of millions of dollars.
- The proposal to require school districts to reimburse charters for costs related to the employment of school-related professionals such as: nurses, food service workers and others was rejected ($124 million).
- Charters will receive an additional $500 in funding per pupil in 2017-18 that will be paid in the first instance by the resident school district but is fully reimbursable by the state in the following school year. After 2017-18, per pupil charter school tuition payment increases are linked to the growth in per pupil spending in each school district, which is not be reimbursable by the State.
- There was no change to the Tax Cap law.
- The final budget includes something that the Governor is touting as a major accomplishment, but critics say is just a gimmick to boost his progressive credentials in preparation for a 2020 Presidential run: Free tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools. Undoubtedly it will be a big help to many students who might not otherwise be able to attend college, but the program is extremely flawed, as described in this piece at Slate.com.
Union Dues Deduction
- Union Dues may now be deducted from income for calculating State Income Tax. Previously, union dues could be included under miscellaneous deductions, which had to exceed 2% of adjusted gross income (this is still the case for Federal Income Tax). This will open the deduction up to many more people, but still only to those who itemize rather than taking the standard deduction. Estimated savings for those who can take advantage is somewhere around $75.
- The changes to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) that would have made collective bargaining agreements subject to FOIL prior to their ratification by union members were not included in the budget.
NYSHIP Retiree Health Insurance Benefits
- The Enacted Budget rejected the proposal to eliminate the reimbursement of Medicare Part B premium rates for NYSHIP retirees, as was the Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts (IRMAA). The Enacted Budget also preserves NYSHIP retirees’ individual (and their dependents) share of their health insurance cost, based upon their years of service and grade-level as a state employee.
Governor’s Right to Modify Budget
- Because of the uncertainty stemming from the Federal budget proposed by the President, the State budget includes language allows the Governor to modify and limit state spending once the Federal budget is solidified. In that situation, the Legislature has ninety days to pass their own plan, and if after ninety days, the Legislature has not acted, the plan developed by the governor and the division of the budget will be put into place.