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As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to release his proposed 2012-13 budget next week, some details of the $130 billion spending plan are becoming clearer -- including what an official said Wednesday will be another round of agency spending cuts.
In a Wednesday meeting of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, Chairwoman Janet DiFiore said all agencies are cutting spending 2.5 percent as she discussed what that means for the commission's $3 million budget.
The state Division of Budget said the notice to cut was first sent to agencies on Oct. 31, but was meant to be a guide in requesting, analyzing and crafting budgets, not a hard order, said Division of Budget spokesman Morris Peters. He said figures won't be released until Tuesday, when Cuomo presents his second annual budget proposal to the Legislature.
Last year, Cuomo and the Legislature made a slight but rare cut in state spending to address a $10 billion deficit, the latest in a string of deficits that forced deep cuts in state agencies in previous years.
Agencies including the public university systems have been cut for three years during the recession amid reduced state revenues, with a total 30 percent loss for the State University of New York.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher earlier this week floated the idea of taking 5 percent from traditional funding for all campuses and turning it into a competitive grant program aimed at innovations in operations and instruction.
Cuomo favors competitive grants and has already used the idea to distribute some school aid and economic development grants and tax breaks to 10 regions in the state.
Cuomo's budget on Tuesday will also include $1.9 billion in added spending, the result of a new millionaire tax approved in December. It replaces a surcharge on earners making more $200,000 a year. That expired Dec. 31 and was worth about $4 billion a year in revenue.
Cuomo and Legislature devoted some of the tax revenue to paying for a middle-class tax break worth $200 to $400 a year for most New Yorkers, which officials said is expected to stimulate the economy.
The millionaire tax revenue also reduces the state's projected deficit for the fiscal year beginning April 1 to about $2 billion, which Cuomo will have to address Tuesday.
Another $250 million is already committed to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to compensate for a cut in the MTA payroll tax in New York City and its suburbs. Cuomo and legislative leaders will also devote $50 million to upstate communities hit by late summer flooding.
And they have agreed to 4 percent increases in funding to public schools and for health care. It was a promise tied to big cuts in those budget areas a year ago and means an increase of about $800 million for the state's 700 school districts. Total school aid is more than $20 billion.
As for health care, including the Medicaid program for the poor, Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed to increase spending about $600 million to $15.9 billion.