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Highlights of 2014-15 NYS Budget Agreement

March 31, 2014
By Alan Schulkin

Albany, NY – The following is a summary of the 2014-15 State Budget. The Budget holds spending growth below two percent for the fourth consecutive year. It includes $1.5 billion in property tax relief for New York homeowners conditioned on approved plans for local governments to become more efficient.

The Budget also puts forward the state’s largest investment in education to date, including an increase of more than 5% in school aid; statewide, universal full-day Pre-k; a bond act to modernize classrooms; as well as a program to fix Common Core implementation and protect students from unfair high stakes test results; and strengthen and support Charter Schools.
A. Property Tax Relief:
$1.5 Billion in Property Tax Relief: The property tax relief package is designed to incentivize local governments to share services and reduce their financial burden on the taxpayer. Over three years, the program will result in over $1.5 billion in direct property tax relief for as many as 2.8 million taxpayers.
B. Cutting taxes and Creating Jobs:
1. Cutting Manufacturer's Taxes to Zero: The Budget agreement lowers the cost of doing business for manufacturers. It lowers the tax rate on income for all manufacturers from the current 5.9 percent to zero in 2014 and thereafter.

2. Continuing the Success of The Regional Economic Development Councils: The Budget provides $150 million in flexible new economic development capital funding and $70 million in State tax credits for a fourth round of the REDC process.

3. Fulfilling Commitment to Western New York: The Budget includes $1 billion commitment to revitalize Buffalo’s regional economy by including $680 million in new capital appropriations for the “Buffalo Billion” program.

C. Education Reforms:
1. School Aid: The Budget includes a $1.1 billion – or 5.3% – increase in education aid for the 2014-15 school year. High-needs school districts will receive nearly 70 percent of the 2014-15 allocated increase.

2. Reform Common Core Implementation: The Budget puts into law a series of recommendations for the  implementation of the Common Core in New York State. Also includes banning standardized “bubble tests” for young children.

3. Statewide Universal Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten: The Budget builds upon the present  State-funded pre-kindergarten program by committing to invest $1.5 billion over five years to support the phase-in of a Statewide Universal Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten program.

4. Protect Charter Schools: The Budget increases tuition funding for charter school students over three years: $250 per student the first year, $350 the second, and $500 in the third. The Budget is designed to promote the growth of charter schools by addressing their facility needs. Charter schools will be eligible for Pre-K funding.

5. Smart Schools: The Budget includes a $2 billion general obligation bond to fund education technology in schools. Additionally, Smart Schools will enable the construction of new pre-kindergarten classroom space.
D. Reforming Public Trust:
The budget agreement includes  proposals for tough new anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws as well as increased transparency of political contributors to independent expenditure committees.

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