WXXI AM News

Governor Pataki Proposes Largest Ever State Budget

Albany, NY – Governor George Pataki stressed fiscal prudence as he introduced an 83-billion-dollar state budget proposal. It includes a controversial retooling of New York's school financing system that may make the budget a tough sell in the state legislature.

The governor's 2001 spending plan totals 83.6 billion dollars. That's an increase of about 5 percent over the current budget. Pataki wants to cut taxes by an additional 530 million dollars and double the size of New York's economic development zones. Businesses get special breaks for creating jobs inside those zones.

The governor also wants to bank the state's entire budget surplus for the second year in a row and add extra funds to create a 1.3 billion dollar reserve fund. Pataki says nearly every reputable expert is predicting an economic slowdown, and he wants to guard against it.

The Pataki plan would boost state aid to public schools by 382 million dollars to a total of 14 billion.

New York's complicated school aid formula has been overturned by a downstate court ruling. The governor wants to replace it with something he calls "Flex Aid." Pataki says Flex Aid would let school officials spend 65 percent of their aid money the way they want to instead of 17 percent. It would also spell out incentives for improved student performance.

The Governor's budget proposal targets 300 million dollars in tax cuts at Upstate New York communities. They are intended to spur job creation in an area which has lagged behind the rest of the state in economic recovery. It also includes an expected call for a 230 million dollar plan to cut taxes at the county level.

The budget proposal is for the state fiscal year that begins April first. That deadline hasn't been met in the past 16 years.