YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Yorktown officials on Tuesday applauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed $136.5 billion state budget for its focus on mandate relief for municipalities.
Cuomo's budget proposes no new taxes or fees and holds spending increases below 2 percent for the third consecutive year.
It also features mandate relief for local governments through a series of reforms to reduce the cost of purchasing workers' compensation insurance. An estimated $900 million in savings, according to the Division of the Budget, could be realized by reducing assessments and streamlining the system.
"The governor's reforms could allow businesses significant benefits while preserving the rights of workers and saving our taxpayers millions," said Town Council member Terrence Murphy, who was a vocal opponent of the MTA payroll tax, a mandate that was ruled unconstitutional in August.
Cuomo's budget also creates a stable rate pension contribution option to help local governments with the escalating cost of pension obligations. After passage of the Tier VI bill last year, with an estimated savings of $80 billion over 30 years, local governments wanted more, Council member Dave Paganelli said.
"Tier VI was an important long-term step in achieving mandate relief and ending our ignominious distinction as the most highly taxed county and state in the nation," Paganelli said. "The Governor is offering a way for local governments like Yorktown to realize some immediate savings from Tier VI, as well as provide greater predictability for our future budgeting needs."
Through the Tier VI financing plan, Cuomo has proposed giving local governments the option to reduce near-term pension payments by locking in a lower, stable rate, while requiring higher than normal contributions in the latter years. This proposal is fiscally neutral to the retirement funds over the full length of the period, according to the Division of the Budget.
"I salute Gov. Cuomo for proposing a $15 million dollar increase to the Environmental Protection Fund, while at the same time holding the line flat on state spending and providing a modest increase in education spending," Council member Nick Bianco said. "Importantly, aid to municipalities has been kept stable, which, when coupled with the proposed relief from unfunded mandates and changes to binding arbitration, will be a win for our local taxpayers."
The new budget is supposed to be in place by April 1, the start of the state's fiscal year.