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Cuomo Outlines Budget Plans Including Hurricane Sandy Recovery

By Jill Colvin | January 22, 2013 7:37pm
 Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented his 2013 budget on Jan. 22, 2013.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented his 2013 budget on Jan. 22, 2013.
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NEW YORK CITY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his 2013 budget plan Tuesday, including billions to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.

The $143 billion plan aims to close a $1.3 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, while adding new cash for economic development and education, including $25 million to support new full-day pre-kindergarten programs in high-risk districts and $20 million to fund extended school days or school years.

Cuomo also outlined billions in new spending to rebuild homes and infrastructure devastated by Hurricane Sandy — which would be covered by federal dollars, he said.

That includes money to rebuild hundreds of miles of roadway, establish fuel reserves and repair and harden the subway systems.

“People need help today,” said Cuomo, who stressed that he'd rather invest more money now to build well then be forced to rebuild again after the next storm.

Cuomo also threatened a new round of school spending cuts if the city does not reach a deal on a teacher evaluation system.

The Bloomberg administration and the United Federation of Teachers union failed to come to an agreement on the evaluations by Cuomo's original deadline last week, costing the city as much as $450 million in education funding.

Now, Cuomo is threatening to withhold another $220 million in school funding to the city unless it fully implements a teacher evaluation system by Sept. 1, 2013.

In Tuesday's speech, Cuomo also provided new details on proposals introduced during his State of the State speech.

He said building three new casinos upstate to draw tourists dollars would bring in an estimated $150 million in revenue — which "could be one of our best economic development weapons," he said.

He also outlined plans to boost the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75 an hour, effective July 1, 2013. The increase would affect more than 700,000 workers, boosting wages by more than $1 billion per year, he said.

As for cost-cutting, Cuomo proposed shuttering two more state prisons, including the Bayview Correctional Facility, a medium-security women's prison at the corner of West 20th Street and Eleventh Avenue, which was vacated during Sandy.

The move would eliminate some 432 beds and save the state nearly $20 million in 2013-14, Cuomo said.

“It's not right. We can't afford it,” added Cuomo, who said it costs $74,000 a year to house an inmate at the prison — more than double the state's $34,000 average.