ALBANY, N.Y. — More education spending, including universal pre-K, phased-in tax cuts and a plan to overhaul ethics in New York. That's part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's $142.6 billion spending plan.
Cuomo's budget tackles property taxes, which are set on the local level, but he's trying to encourage capping increases and consolidating services.
"We collect about $50 billion in property tax, about $40 billion in personal income tax. When you hear people complain they complain about the property tax. Why is the property tax so high? Because we have too many levels of government, period," said Gov. Cuomo, D-New York.
Cuomo's proposed a $1.5 billion universal pre-Kindergarten program that would be phased in over the next five years. The first wave of funding is $100 million.
"How do you pay for it? The state will pay for it and the state will be proud to pay for it. It's a priority. We believe in children. We believe in pre-K. We believe in education. Let's put our money where our mouth is and let's make it a reality."
The move seems to be aimed at defusing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's call for a tax increase in order to pay for a city-wide version of universal pre-K, which is also supported by many downstate lawmakers.
"I would say it's a good first step that the governor is making that we try to provide additional money for pre-K than we provide right now," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D.
Cuomo is also taking aim at the implementation of Common Core, and he wants to develop changes.
"Let's get recommendations for corrective action by the end of this session. Let's pass a package of corrective actions by the end of this session and let's end the anxiety that parents and students are feeling all across this state," Cuomo said.
Cuomo's budget also includes some non-fiscal policy items like new restrictions on campaign spending, closing fundraising loopholes and strengthening ethics laws.
"With this budget, I'm also proposing a public financing system because I think it's inarguable that the amount of money in politics as created a number of difficult issues."
Senate Republicans continue to oppose the public financing proposal.
"I'd rather see the money go to tax cuts to job creation to infrastructure," said Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Majority Leader.
Under Cuomo's plan, spending increases by 1.7 percent and a surplus of about $500 million is projected.
The budget is due by April 1.