New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced the passage of the 2013-2014 state budget this week, which closes a $1.4 billion budget gap and increases the state’s minimum wage, bolsters education funding and invests in what Thiele called “critical job creation programs and tax cuts for middle class families and small businesses.”
The spending plan totals $141.3 billion, which includes federal funds for Superstorm Sandy cleanup and adoption of the Affordable Care Act. Absent the federal funding, the budget totals $135.1 billion, an increase of $1 billion, which is below one percent spending growth.
“This is another early adoption of the state budget, providing a balanced spending plan that delivers for hardworking New Yorkers,” Thiele said. “The budget addresses fundamental issues facing our families, including the Assembly Majority’s longtime commitment to increasing the state’s minimum wage and providing our schools the necessary funding for our children to receive a quality education. Also, by stimulating job creation and bringing tax relief to middle-class families and small businesses, we are ushering in a stronger, more successful economic recovery throughout New York.”
The 2013-14 state budget increases school aid by $436 million over the executive’s budget proposal, or a $936.6 million increase over last year (see related story on page 1).
The spending plan also increases aid for community colleges and SUNY schools based on the number of full time students.
In an effort to combat ballooning pension costs, the budget allows local governments and school districts to opt into a pension stabilization program that benefits taxpayers.
Under this plan, local governments could pay a stable rate of 12 percent for civilian employees or a stable rate of 20 percent for uniformed employees for the first two years. This plan allows that rate to be adjusted by up to a half a percentage point the following year and allows for repayment over 12 years, instead of 10.
For school districts, the budget allows districts to defer payment of a portion of pension costs for up to seven years. The rate for the first two years would start at 14 percent and could gradually increase to a maximum of 18 percent for the following years. Repayment will begin in FY 2018-19 and span a five-year period. If the overall funded ratio of the pension system drops below 80 percent, the stable rate plan for school districts will end.