5:20am

Sat February 23, 2013
Politics and Government

30-day amendments make several changes to Cuomo's budget plan

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made several changes to his budget plan in what are called 30-day amendments. These amendments range from imposing a teacher evaluation plan on schools in New York City, to cutting the cost of hunting licenses.

Cuomo amended his budget to impose a teacher evaluation system on New York City. The Bloomberg administration and the teacher’s union failed to reach an agreement by a January deadline set by Cuomo, and the city stood to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in school aid.

“You will have this law in perpetuity,” said Cuomo. “If there’s ever a year that the city doesn’t have a teacher evaluation program this law would kick in.”

Cuomo says that in the future, all school districts in the state will continue to have to complete a teacher evaluation agreement or risk losing some state aid.

The governor will require that around 2,800 gas stations on evacuation routes be wired for generators, and also require them to get a generator quickly if there is a disaster.

“One of the issues we learned the hard way, it’s not as easy as just having a generator brought to the gas station,” Cuomo said. “The gas station has to be wired to accept that generator.”

The state will reimburse gas stations up to $10,000 to pay for the electrical wiring.

The governor will also cut the price for fishing and hunting licenses by up to one-third of the current price. Cuomo says this move has nothing to do with the recent strict gun control laws enacted in New York that has enraged some hunters.

The governor saw his first significant drop in public opinion polls after he championed the passage of the gun laws in mid January.

Budget director Robert Megna believes that in order to comply with federal requirements on Medicaid reimbursement, Cuomo will have to trim the health care portion of the budget.

Megna says that $120 million would be cut from services to the disabled and $380 million would be taken out by adjusting the spending cap on Medicaid programs.

A report by a Congressional subcommittee found that New York has been over billing the federal government for services for the disabled for decades. It found that the state was overpaid by an estimated $15 billion over those years. The adjustment in the new budget does not address the previous overcharges, Cuomo says.

One item that’s staying in the governor’s budget plan for now is a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. In recent days though, the governor has been dampening expectations that Republicans in the state Senate will agree to the measure. Cuomo says President Obama’s advocacy to raise the federal minimum age to $9 an hour has given opponents an out.

“It makes the discussion more complicated,” said Cuomo.

The governor says that while a minimum wage increase might not make it into the final state budget, which is due April 1, he predicts there will be a deal closer to June 1, when the legislative session is due to wind down.

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