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Cuomo Legislative and Budget Agenda Pushed in Huntington

Education is top priority, says Cuomo Administration official.

President and CEO of the New York Power Authority Gil Quiniones presented the key initiatives of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2013-14 executive budget at the Huntington Yacht Club Thursday.

The presentation was part of a statewide campaign to disseminate Cuomo's State of the State agenda at ground level and was organized by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.

Education is the top priority in the proposed budget, said Quiniones, emphasizing the value of investment. Education funding is increased by 4.4 percent statewide in the proposed budget, a roughly $300 increase per student.

Among the governor's educational initiatives:

  • More classroom time, longer or additional school days
  • Expansion of early education, full day pre-K starting with low income areas
  • Overhaul of the teacher training and certification process, creation of admission standards
  • Full incentivized implementation of teacher performance evaluation system
  • Income incentives for high-performing teachers, mentoring programs
  • Creation of "community schools" in distressed communities, make schools a hub of social services

Cuomo's Mandate Relief Task Force has also been addressing concerns over rising costs associated with state mandates, which present challenges for municipalities and school districts in light of the two percent cap law.

According to Cuomo's budget statement, his proposal builds on the significant mandate relief enacted in 2012-13 by providing a Stable Rate Pension Contribution Option to allow local governments and school districts to immediately realize Tier VI savings.

"The Governor is trying to recommend giving local governments the ability to have a more fixed rate, rather than an unknown variable rate year after year, this way they can plan ahead," said Quiniones. "Also, the anticipated savings from the implementation of Tier IV, which won't be realized until later on, can be advanced to today."

A Financial Restructuring Assistance Task Force will also be created to tailor restructuring to the needs of individual communities and an option made for municipalities in financial distress to limit the payment coming out of binding local arbitration process.

New York can expect to receive about $30 billion of the Hurricane Sandy aid package recently passed by the Senate, according to Quiniones, some of which will also be applicable to damage sustained by Hurricanes Irene and Lee.

Cuomo's "build back, build better" campaign calls for enhanced mitigation as well as repairs to highways, coastlines, transit systems, sewer systems, healthcare, homes, fuel supply, and energy, taking a "top down, bottom up" cooperative approach between state and local government on projects.

Addressing Cuomo's recently passed gun control legislation, Quiniones said that there is "much misinformation" in its wake and recited the core points. Assemblyman Andrew Raia, R-East Northport, voted against the legislation, calling it "defective."

Among Cuomo's other State of the State recommendations incorporated into the budget:

  • Minimum wage increase to $8.75 to better reflect cost of living
  • Placing women's rights at the forefront of major new legislation
  • Lessen certain criminal penalties for marijuana
  • Nurture the creation of affordable housing

Quiniones addressed the future of LIPA separately from the budget presentation. There are three options are currently under consideration, he said: privatization, modifying the current structure of an outsourcing contract, and making LIPA a full publicly owned and operated municipal utility.

The Moreland Commission, charged with investigating LIPA's response to Hurricane Sandy, recommended reforms for the Public Service Commission, the entity that regulates and oversees all utilities across the state. As a result, the Commission would be granted more "muscle" in their regulatory oversight of utilities.

"When privatization [of LIPA] was proposed and put on the table you should think of it as in combination of the reforms and strengthening of the Public Service Commission," said Quiniones.

Ron January 31, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Mario Jr just loves spending our money. I cannot wait to get the heck out of this state. District 13 has to be close to 50% free breakfast and lunch. The class sizes are beyond the scope of ideal learning.The administration lives in CYOA mode all year selling out their teachers in a heartbeat, The schools are filthy and falling apart and aside from the short staff they are never shut down at night or in summer for proper maintenance. Big words,bigger promises and none of it good.
FYI February 01, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Assemblyman Raia has it correct. Cuomo's anti-gun legislation was jammed down our throats without the time for due process to allow our elected officials to hear from their constituency with their concerns. The legislation IS defective and more politicians should have had the backbone to vote against it until it could have been researched, debated and changed to produce the desired outcome. Oh wait, the removing of legally owned firearms WAS the desired outcome sought by Cuomo. The new laws will have MINIMAL impact on crime and will create an entire new class of criminal by next year. It will be the hundreds of thousands of citizens that will rightfully refuse to register their guns with the state. Multiple lawsuits are in their initial stages to overturn this obnoxious legislation.

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