N.Y. Lawmakers Agree on Budget Restoring Half of School-Aid Cut

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New York legislative leaders last week presented Gov. Mario M. Cuomo with a tentative $51.9-budget plan that would restore about half of his proposed 10 percent cut in state aid to schools.

Ralph J. Marino, leader of the Senate's Republican majority, and Speaker of the Assembly Melvin H. Miller announced their agreement last Monday, eight weeks after the statutory deadline for approval of next year's state budget.

The leaders then presented their plan to the House and Senate.

"We are still working on the details," said Charles P. Carrier, spokesman for Mr. Miller, a Democrat. "The hope is that this thing will get resolved in the next few days."

Mr. Cuomo last week said he wanted to see more of the details of the spending plan before he committed himself to accepting or rejecting it.

The Governor was leaving himself open to being approached by the legislature for a three-way agreement, said Thomas P. Conroy, his deputy press secretary.

But the legislative leaders said they would seek to pass a budget with or without the Governor's blessing, prompting Mr. Cuomo to warn that he may use his veto to shape the final budget plan.

One aspect of the plan that could face a veto is the restoration of $500 million from the $891-million cut in state aid to schools that the Gover4nor had proposed. (See Education Week, May 22, 1991.)

Aides to the Governor said last week, however, that Mr. Cuomo had all along expected the legislature to attempt to score points with voters by increasing school funding beyond what he had proposed.

"Every governor of New York knows that whatever he proposes for school aid is going to be increased," Mr. Conroy said. "It is part of his calculation."

But, the spokesman added, "Just as important as the dollars is the distribution."

Mr. Conroy said the Governor's proposed distribution formula, aimed at equalizing state aid, "was fairer than any distribution the legislature has come up with."

As presented, the legislative plan included about $1.2 billion in new taxes and fees, including a 15 percent surcharge on motor-vehicle registrations and additional taxes on gasoline and diesel-fuel producers.

The plan also called for generating $400 million in revenue by freezing the top personal-income-tax rate at 7.875 percent, rather than letting it drop to 7.7 percent next year, as had been scheduled.

The legislative plan also would restore about $100 million in cuts that the Governor had proposed for higher-education and other programs.

The proposal came as New York City, short of cash as a result of the state's delay in devising an aid package, prepared to borrow $3 billion.

Vol. 10, Issue 37

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