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Cuomo holds cabinet meeting

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Albany/HV: Cuomo holds cabinet meeting
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Governor Andrew Cuomo held a meeting with his top cabinet officials to discuss some of the big issues the state has dealt with over the past year. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman joined us with a look at what they focused on.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A $2 billion surplus in the state budget is possible next year if spending is held to a two percent increase. And Governor Andrew Cuomo and his top budget aide says that surplus is possible without broad-based spending cuts.

"If we continue to do that, we can achieve the two percent," said Robert Megna, Division of Budget Director.

Cuomo at a cabinet meeting on Monday told reporter the last several years of voluntarily capping spending at two percent increases and last year's spending plan that approved a five percent bump in education aid made it possible.

Cuomo said, "The short answer, Karen, is no, there will be not be cuts. We spent two percent this year and education spending went up five percent."

A commission, led by former Governor George Pataki and ex-Comptroller Carl McCall, recommended $2 billion in cuts for property and business taxes, including a two year property tax freeze. At the same time, a credit for renters was added at the insistence of some commission members. Cuomo says the help for renters could make a tax cut package an easier sell for Democrats in the Legislature.

"You're going to need balance between the tax increase - tax decrease. You need balance between upstate and urban and suburban if expect to actually pass it," Cuomo said.

Cuomo reiterated, however, that he didn't want to spend even more money on big ticket items like education if quality wasn't expected to improve.

Cuomo said, "There is no direct correlation between what we spend and what we accomplish and why don't we focus on actually accomplishing something?"

Complicating the budget picture further is the state seeking an $800 million Medicaid waiver from the state. Approval is elusive for now, but the governor says he's working to still try to get that money.

"We've had many conversations, many promises, but we haven't gotten a check," Cuomo said.

The governor's budget division currently projects a $1.7 billion deficit. Cuomo is due to give his State of the State Address January 8th and present his budget January 21st.

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