Cuomo launches big-bucks, small-fuss budget
The response to the $142.6 billion state budget unveiled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week has been surprisingly muted, and with good reason. One upstate paper dubbed it the most "vanilla" financial plan in years, chockablock with modest proposals unlikely to spark any serious uproar. On the upside, business groups offered strong praise for Mr. Cuomo's plans to reduce the cost of employer mandates including unemployment insurance, while offering merely mild criticism of his proposal to hike the minimum wage by 20%. Still, several items will spark debate in the coming weeks. Republicans in the state Legislature, for example, are unlikely to support a minimum-wage increase without some offsetting tax breaks for small businesses. Also, while the governor said he wants to "modernize" the state's workers' compensation fund, some people say that his proposal amounts to a "raid" on the fund. And though the governor was able to boast he'd closed this year's $1.3 billion budget deficit with no new taxes, critics pointed out that he wants to add to or extend a number of fees and assessments, including a new surcharge on speeding tickets. —Andrew J. Hawkins
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