UPDATE: Cuomo budget proposals include no new taxes, fees; spreading out welfare increase; training of state police recruits; 10 percent cuts to environment, agriculture

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing no new or increased taxes or fees in his 2012-13 budget.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing no new or increased taxes or fees in his more than $130 million 2012-13 budget being presented today.

It’s the same pledge he made a year ago and during his 2010 campaign, but which he and the Senate’s Republican majority broke in December.

Budget details

For more details on the governor’s proposed budget, click HERE.

After flatly rejecting any new taxes for 11 months, Cuomo and the GOP senators agreed to a “millionaire tax” on the state’s top earners that had been pushed by the Assembly’s Democratic majority to avoid further cuts to schools and programs as a deficit deepened.

Cuomo says today he won’t increase taxes or fees because New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation.

Meanwhile, Cuomo also plans to withhold some critical state funding from school districts, including New York City’s, that fail to enact tougher teacher evaluations and other reforms.

State Education Commissioner John King has already suspended funding to 10 districts that failed to agree with unions on new evaluations for teachers and principals by a Dec. 31 deadline. That deadline was part of the requirements for the state to receive nearly $700 million in federal “Race to the Top” money intended to force better public school performance.

Cuomo and the Legislature have already promised to increase school aid 4 percent after cuts a year ago.

The sticking point is using student performance in evaluations.

Welfare increase

Also, social services recipients would see a delay in their long awaited increase in welfare checks under a new budget proposal.

Cuomo wants to spread the 10-percent increase that was expected to begin this summer into two annual 5-percent hikes. That would ultimately boost the typical monthly public assistance grant to $770, from $753 today. Each increase would cost the state $6 million in the $132 billion annual budget.

Cuomo also proposes to eliminate state funding of neighborhood and rural preservation programs, saving $12 million in the face of a $2 billion overall deficit.

Staff would also be transferred to Cuomo’s proposed Office of New Americans to bolster English lessons and help immigrants.

He would also add $1 million to promote enrollment for Food Stamps for children.

State police training

New York state police would begin training recruits again after a three-year hiatus under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal.

Funding for the agency would hold near $720 million for the coming fiscal year, with two training classes for up to 230 new recruits.

Budget documents say that would keep the force at 4,458 officers, down almost 10 percent from the peak in 2009.

For law enforcement overall, the administration proposes $4.6 billion, essentially unchanged, and advances the governor’s proposal to require DNA testing of everyone convicted of any felony or penal misdemeanor. It now applies to all penal felonies and 36 misdemeanors. The results are included in a database used to solve crimes or exonerate the innocent.

The prisons and parole budget would decline 2 percent to $2.86 billion, with $112 million savings from last year’s closing of seven prison facilities.

The budget plan notes a $54 million cut in Office of Children and Family Services funding to $2.96 billion, with $21 million saved by eliminating 324 more beds from state juvenile detention and closing facilities, with more youths placed in programs nearer their homes and administered by New York City.

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services budget would rise $68 million, or 13 percent, to $586 million. More grants to counties are expected to help develop a single public safety communications network.

According to budget documents, the destruction from flooding last year showed limitations in emergency responses, including breakdowns in communications, duplicated efforts and misdirected resources.

An estimated $1.5 billion, with about 75 percent reimbursed by the federal government, would be spent on helping flooded communities recover, the budget proposal says. It notes more than 42,000 families and individuals getting more than $250 million, estimates the cost of state and local efforts at $900 million and says public authorities estimate their costs at more than $250 million.

10 percent cuts to environment, agriculture

State environment and agriculture programs would be trimmed 10 percent overall under the Cuomo administration’s proposed spending plan.

The executive budget would cut funding for the Department of Environmental Conservation by 16 percent, or $167 million, to $872 million, largely tracking a drop in federal stimulus money. It would continue the Environmental Protection Fund at $134 million, including $70 million for open space programs that include buying land and conservation easements.

The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation would see a 16 percent increase to $276 million related to a youth jobs program and addressing a backlog of repair work.

The Department of Agriculture and Markets budget would drop 10 percent to $125 million, in part because of reduced capital spending on a lab that tests food safety.

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