CUOMO ANNOUNCES 2012-13 BUDGET, LABOR UNIONS REACT NEGATIVELY
ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his 2012-2013 Budget yesterday afternoon, calling for no increases in spending from the current year. The $132.5 billion spending plan, which needs to be approved by the Legislature, is likely to set off a tough fight with unions representing state employees and teachers.
The plan includes the creation of a new and less-generous pension tier for new public employees that’s anticipated to save state and local governments $83 billion over the next 30 years. The retirement age would be raised from 62 to 65; employees would be required to make increased contributions, going from the current 3 percent to 4, 5 or 6 percent depending on an individual’s salary level; the pension multiplier that determines an employee’s final payout would drop; and overtime would be excluded from the formula that determines final salary.
Cuomo likened the current pension system to a person with high cholesterol, saying the state is allowing cholesterol to build up and warned that it would become a terminal problem if lawmakers failed to rein in costs immediately.
The state’s largest public employee unions reacted negatively. Civil Service Employees Association President Danny Donohue called it “an assault on the middle class and a cheap shot at public employees,” while Public Employees Federation President Ken Brynien said it was “similar to the misguided proposals for reforming Social Security proposed by former President George W. Bush.”
Democratic lawmakers in the Assembly, seen as labor’s most powerful ally in the Legislature, were noncommittal.
Governor Cuomo also continued his push on education reform, which would have much more immediate consequences for school districts: He announced that districts that fail to implement a new teacher evaluation system won’t receive any of the 4 percent increase in funding that will be distributed in the coming fiscal year. Districts that take that action by Sept. 1 will earn “bonus points” for competitive grants; the final deadline is Jan. 17, 2013.
The Governor also elaborated on economic development plans to use $1.3 billion in state funds to fertilize as much as $25 billion in private-sector investment, federal outlay and spending by authorities.
(source: Times Union)
SENATOR YOUNG ENCOURAGED BY CUOMO’S PROPOSED SPENDING PLAN
ALBANY – Legislative leaders generally praised Cuomo’s presentation, while hoping for more details on many of the particulars. Locally, Senator Cathy Young said Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget is a good starting point, and she looks forward to building on his priorities.
The Olean Republican added that, as always, the devil is in the details, and now the state Legislature will begin the full review and negotiation process. She said until lawmakers can look at the numbers and read the budget language, it is difficult to assess the full impact, but added it was heartening to hear the Governor’s focus on fiscal responsibility, Medicaid reform and student achievement.
WINTER FESTIVAL TO TAKE PLACE WITH OR WITHOUT CASTLE
MAYVILLE – Although questions linger about whether ice on Chautauqua Lake will be thick enough for an ice castle to be built this year, plans are under way for Presidents Day weekend’s Winter Festival. That’s according to a report today in the Jamestown Post-Journal, which says the lake froze this weekend but ice on it is only 1 to 2 inches thick. That means crews can’t get on it to take ice out of the lake with which they build the castle. Typically, 10 to 12 inches are needed before blocks of ice can be cut out of the lake, which are used to construct the castle.
While there is still a question about whether the castle will be part of the festivities, the event will go on either way. The castle’s lighting is planned for Friday, Feb. 17, along with opening ceremonies.
Those wanting more information or wanting to become sponsors are asked to call 753-3113.
WATERFRONT REVITALIZATION PUBLIC MEETING SET FOR JAN. 25 IN CELORON
CELORON – The Village of Celoron is sponsoring a public meeting for its Waterfront Revitalization Plan. The meeting has been scheduled for 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at the Community Center – 47 Dunham Avenue, Celoron.
According to village officials, the Waterfront Revitalization Plan is an opportunity for residents and stakeholders to help shape the future of the community. The plan provides a revitalization strategy for the future of the Village commercial district, Lucille Ball Memorial Park and the former Celoron Amusement Park site.
On January 25th the Village wants residents and stakeholders to provide their input on the draft Waterfront Revitalization Plan.
The meeting is free and open to the public and the public is encouraged to attend. For more information call Shirley Sanfilippo at (716) 487-4175.