5 things from the 2015 State of the State / state budget presentation

state of state 2015 three amigos slide

Sometimes people have a little too much with Powerpoint.

Andrew Cuomo delivered his combined State of the State/state budget presentation -- the Powerpoint of the State, if you will -- Wednesday afternoon.

It was long (almost an hour-and-a-half). And the briefing book for it is 550 pages.

So here's a quick, 5-things scan of the presentation.

This isn't comprehensive, obviously. Other outlets have much more thorough (better) coverage, including TU Capital Confidential,Capital, and State of Politics.

And it's also worth nothing that these are Cuomo admin proposals -- much of this either won't make it all the way through the state budget process, or will do so only after being significantly changed.

Property taxes

What Andrew Cuomo is proposing: A property tax credit program that will refund some money to taxpayers whose property tax exceeds 6 percent of their income. There are a handful of qualifications and details, such as the program only applying to a "tax cap-compliant jurisdiction" -- the thing reads like a math class word problem. But here are some of other important details, as quoted from the Cuomo admin's briefing materials:

Taxpayers with incomes below $250,000 would qualify for this credit, and the credit is valued at up to 50 percent of the amount by which property taxes exceed the six percent burden threshold. The specific amount of the credit within that 50 percent is determined on a progressive income scale, so that New Yorkers with the highest tax burdens and lowest income levels will receive the greatest amount of relief.

The Cuomo admin figures 1.3 million taxpayers will get an average credit of $950.

Why it's of particular interest here: Property taxes are a constant topic of discussion, especially in municipalities such as the cities of Albany and Schenectady.

Minimum wage

What Andrew Cuomo is proposing: An increase in the state's minimum wage from $9 (which it will be as of the end of 2015) to $10.50 statewide, and $11.50 in New York City. As Cuomo said in his address, if you're working full time you should be be able to afford basic necessities like food and rent and not be in poverty.

Why it's of particular interest here: Poverty is (or should be) of interest everywhere. And the Capital Region is no exception -- there are roughly 50,000 people living in poverty in just the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy combined.

Teacher evaluation system, and (possibly) a bigger increase in school funding

What Andrew Cuomo is proposing: He's proposing a lot of things, and the situation is going to be complicated and contentious. Here are two of the biggest parts:

+ The Cuomo admin is pushing for a reformed teacher evaluation system that be 50 percent based on state tests and 50 percent based on observations. And this evaluation system would be used in granting tenure status -- teachers would only get tenure after five consecutive years being tagged as "effective" or "highly effective." (briefing book p. 227)

+ And here's the carrot: If the Cuomo admin's reforms are adopted, he'll support roughly $700 million in additional school funding -- $1.1 billion (4.8 percent increase) vs. $377 million (1.7 percent increase).

Cuomo has argued that additional school funding without reform is like throwing "good money after bad." And in Wednesday's speech he pointed to schools that had low student test scores yet had very high teacher evaluations.

As you might guess, the set of proposals isn't going over well with the teachers unions. NYSUT's president called Cuomo's comments "intellectually hollow rhetoric that misrepresents the state of teaching and learning" and blamed decades of "an epidemic of poverty and under-funding" for schools.

When it comes to big school districts in New York State low high graduation rates are likely to match up with districts that have large numbers of children living in poverty. And this situation points at a hard question: When all the elements of a student's life are taken into account, how much responsibility should schools and teachers bear for a child's academic achievement?

Why it's of particular interest here: The Capital Region has some districts that have struggled for years in terms of graduation rates and other test scores. And Schenectady schools superintendent Larry Spring has been one of the most vocal critics of the level of funding his district and others like it receive from the state.

Criminal justice and policing

state of state 2015 criminal justice slide

What Andrew Cuomo is proposing: A bunch of things. Here are two of the biggest:

+ Raising the age at which teens can be placed in adult prisons from 16 to 18. (New York is currently one of only two states that allows 16 year olds to go to adult prisons.)

+ A slate of initiatives that includes a governor-appointed independent monitor to review cases in which civilians are killed police, more latitude for district attorneys to release grand jury information in police review cases, and the recruitment of more minority police officers.

Why it's of particular interest here: The relationship between communities and their police departments has been a big topic across the nation, and here is no different.

Sexual assault on college campuses

What Andrew Cuomo is proposing: A law that would extend the SUNY system's set of practices for dealing with sexual assault -- which includes rules for affirmative consent and specific information for victims about their rights to report the crime to law enforcement -- to all colleges in the state.

Why it's of particular interest here: The Capital Region has a lot of colleges and college students.
____

Some overall numbers and more details

The proposed budget is for $141.6 billion in all-government spending ($94 billion of that is state operating funds). That's up 2.8 percent from the year before (1.7 percent for state funds).

Here's the Division of the Budget page with links to info related to the 2015-2016 budget, and the budget briefing book.

And here's the "Opportunity Agenda" briefing book:

2015 Cuomo Admin State of the State Buudget Book

screengrabs from governor.ny.gov live feed

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