posted on March 17, 2011 18:30
The State Senate has passed a budget proposal that apparently slashes spending while also eliminating some drastic education cuts.
Local State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer made the announcement today to local media. He says the Senate budget slashes Medicaid by $2.75-billion, and cuts spending by $100-million more than the Governor’s budget proposal.
He also says the Senate budget eliminates $280-million in unfair cuts to upstate schools.
"We adjusted money for rural school districts that don't have the ability to raise funds through taxes, because they don't have a very strong tax base," Ranzenhofer says. The Senate also eliminated some education "cost shifts" that Governor Cuomo included in his budget - specifically the costs for summer school and special education. The bill for those services will now shift back to the state.
Ranzenhofer says the budget process is more open this year than during his first term in office.
"There are now open public conference committees, where Assembly members and Senate members actually sit down...and discuss the budget and what changes need to be made," says Ranzenhofer. "The fact that the first two years (that he was in office) there was no public discussion whatsoever, and the entire budget was crafted in secret, was a real disservice."
Speculation from Albany, meanwhile, says the Democratic Assembly will pass a radically different proposal than the Republican-led Senate. There has not yet come any official word on the Assembly’s plan.
Ranzenhofer says it's just part of politics. "This is an ongoing process," he says.
The budget deadline is April 1st.