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Clock ticking, NY budget still unresolved

Friday, March 28, 2014
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— The New York Legislature's top Democrat said Friday that there's a "whole bunch" of unresolved state budget issues as negotiators raced to meet a looming deadline next week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders had hoped to resolve final differences and print legislation on Friday, clearing the way for Monday voting since bills typically must sit on lawmakers' desks for three days.

But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters at the state Capitol that "things did not move as fast as they should have," and issues including pre-kindergarten funding and public official ethics reform remain open.

"It's all on the table," Silver said. "Everything is on the table."

Silver said he remained optimistic that a budget deal could be reached on time. But he also said there were no immediate plans for Cuomo and the legislative leaders to meet — usually a pre-cursor to a final deal. They are working to get a budget approved before the new fiscal year starts on Tuesday.

Legislative negotiators had been looking at $300 million to fund New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's universal pre-kindergarten initiative with an additional pool of money for upstate districts. Advocates said the tentative budget language that would offer the pre-k aid as a reimbursement to cash-strapped districts would hobble its expansion, though Silver said Friday he had no issue with reimbursements.

Silver said a tax credit to help private and public schools advocated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan probably won't be included in the budget.

People familiar with the negotiations said a version of Cuomo's plan to offer property tax rebates to homeowners in jurisdictions that meet cost-cutting goals remained in the mix. But the tentative proposal would give credit to localities for cost-saving shared-service agreements over the last four years.

Legislators and lobbyists said the final budget is expected to contain several adjustments to Cuomo's tax proposals. They include a statewide income tax cut for manufacturers, not just upstate, and a smaller cut than initially proposed for other corporations, while still rescinding the separate bank tax and offering an option for taxing just 8 percent of income from selling and trading securities.

The final deal also is expected to raise the exemption from estate taxes from $1 million to about $3 million, not the federal level of $5.34 million that Cuomo proposed. The state tax rate is expected to stay at 16 percent.

 

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