By Michael Virtanen
ALBANY— Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have reached an agreement on a nearly $140 billion budget that would provide some tax relief for businesses, homeowners and renters and add $340 million for pre-kindergarten mainly in New York City.
Details for the budget covering the fiscal year beginning Tuesday were contained in legislation filed by staff overnight Friday. Lawmakers are expected to return Sunday to discuss the deal and vote Monday.
According to the governor's office, the budget keeps spending growth below 2 percent and increases school aid overall by 5 percent. An estimated $1.5 billion in homeowner tax relief is tied to their local governments staying within a 2 percent tax cap the first year and then advancing consolidation or cost-saving plans the second year.
Cuomo called that "the single most transformative part" of the budget and one of the most difficult points to negotiate, facing pushback from local officials. "I do believe that will create pressure on local governments to find efficiencies," he said.
The administration estimates the budget at almost $138 billion. An additional $5 billion in the budget is one-time federal aid for ongoing rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy and the rollout of the Affordable Care Act to extend health coverage to uninsured New Yorkers.
The agreement includes public campaign financing for the statewide comptroller's race. It would authorize matching public funds of $6 for each dollar of eligible contributions with limits of $4 million each for the primary and general election. Good-government advocates want public financing for all statewide and legislative races.
The deal would also establish a new independent enforcement officer at the board of elections to investigate violations of campaign finance laws. Budget legislation would establish some new anti-bribery provisions.
Cuomo told reporters Saturday that if those reforms are approved, he will close the special anti-corruption commission he established last year.
The education amendments, filed early Saturday, contain $340 million for universal pre-K for each of the next two years, with $300 million for the city and $40 million for the rest of the state.
The deal would authorize putting a $2 billion bond act before voters in November, borrowing that would fund classroom computers and technology, as well as building pre-K classrooms.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had pushed for all-day pre-K for city students and authority from the state to impose a tax surcharge on the city's highest earners to ensure reliable funding for five years. Cuomo opposed the tax, advocated statewide pre-K and promised to find money as soon as school districts choose to start.
The budget proposes $1.5 billion in pre-K appropriations over five years.
"It's clearly the resources we need to create full-day, pre-K for every child in this city; that's what we set out to do," de Blasio said. "So from what we're seeing so far, it's an incredible beginning."
Concerning the Common Core curriculum, standards in English and math designed to improve college and career readiness, the legislation would keep related test scores off the transcripts of students in third through eighth grades through 2018. School districts would be prevented from using test results as sole means of determining student placements.
Parents and teachers have complained about the curriculum changes and how they were implemented. The legislation would also establish measures intended to keep student scores private.
The 332-page revenue bill lists property and renter's tax credits, other tax credits for families and revisions in bank, corporate, manufacturers and estate taxes. It would phase out a utility surcharge.
It would establish a 20 percent property tax credit for manufacturers who own or lease property in New York while eliminating the 5.9 percent income tax rate for all manufacturers. The Cuomo administration originally proposed the tax cut for upstate manufacturers.