By Howard Koplowitz
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed on a $132.5 billion budget Sunday that includes $86 million for CUNY colleges and drops the governor’s proposal for the city to direct federal funding away from seniors centers, which would prevent the closure of 21 centers in the borough.
“I have said that New York is at a crossroads — one road leading to further dysfunction and decline, the other towards fiscal responsibility and government efficiency. I believe this budget puts us on the right path,” the governor said in a statement. “This budget makes tough choices, which is what you sent me to Albany to do. It closes a $10 billion deficit with no new taxes or borrowing, redesigns government to force it to cut waste and inefficiency and finally delivers results for hardworking families across New York state.”
The budget still has to be voted on by the full Legislature, which is expected to occur sometime this week, according to state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach).
“An on-time budget, it’s so beneficial,” Addabbo said, referring to the April 1 deadline for passing the budget. “It puts the state government on track.”
The budget agreement reduces overall spending by more than 2 percent, eliminates 3,700 prison beds and places spending caps on education and Medicaid spending, Cuomo said.
In the days and weeks leading up to the agreement, elected officials from Queens held rallies saying the city’s senior centers would be forced to close under Cuomo’s plan — but in the end that provision was left out of the budget.
Budget spokesman Jeffrey Gordon said the governor’s proposal did not explicitly call for closing senior centers, but required the city to direct its federal Title XX funding to child welfare.
“That proposal was dropped,” Gordon said. “As such, New York City is able to spend its Title XX allocation on senior centers or whatever other approved eligible activities it wants.”
The Title XX funding amounts to $25 million.
The budget also adds $272 million in education funding, including restoration of funding for schools for the blind and deaf and summer school special education.
It allocates $86 million for higher education, including SUNY hospitals and SUNY and CUNY colleges.
Addabbo said “there are some bright spots” to the budget, including restoration of education funding. He called the senior center funding “very important.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.