The good, the bad and the ugly

Cuomo’s budget proposal brings ups, downs for CNY

— For example, Mahoney said that the 2012 Onondaga County budget calls for a $148 million tax levy. Of that, $106 million goes to Medicaid as required by state mandates.

The state enacted a phased-in 3 percent cap in 2005 that went into effect in 2008; however, many counties complained that, since the tax cap is 2 percent, Medicaid still put a huge burden on their budgets. According to Cuomo’s 2012-13 proposal, the state will phase in a program over the next three years to hold the counties harmless from any Medicaid increases. This year, the counties will still abide by the 3 percent cap, but by 2015-16, they will pay 0 percent, and the state will be responsible for that amount.

“Our five-year savings from 2012 to 2017 would be $27 million,” Mahoney said.

Another significant savings would come in the form of the proposed creation of the Tier 6 pension program, which Mahoney said eliminates the ability to collect pension on overtime.

“What you’d have is people racking up overtime in their last three years before retirement to bump up their salaries and make their pensions more generous,” she said. “With Tier 6, the governor is attempting to eliminate that loophole.”

While the pension reform does not provide immediate savings, Mahoney said it’s something that needs to be done.

“These are savings we’ll be seeing over the next 30 years,” she said. “It’s a reform from which our children and grandchildren will reap the benefits.”

The bad

Cuomo’s 2012-13 executive budget proposal proved to be a mixed bag for local schools, however. While some saw an increase in state aid over last year, it was, in many cases, not enough to make up for the significant revenue loss districts have faced in the last few years.

“The way things are going, yes, we’re seeing a 3.1 percent increase, all told, but we’re losing our sales tax money, we’re losing all of our federal money and our revenue is just disappearing,” said Wayne Bleau, assistant superintendent for management in the North Syracuse Central School District. “From this year to next year, we’re losing $5.8 million in revenue.”

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