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Public Education Aid Tops Budget Issues

Public Education Aid Tops Budget Issues
Top New York lawmaker expects to 'do well' for education in the upcoming budget

The New York Legislature's top Democrat said Thursday he expects to "do well" funding education and pre-kindergarten and cutting property taxes statewide in the new budget due next week.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, following late afternoon meetings with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate leaders, said he may be able to attach numbers to his predictions Friday. He said that several items, including the governor's proposed corporate tax cut, were still being discussed.

"I believe we'll do well on education, very well. We will do very well on universal pre-K," Silver said. "And I believe we'll do well on lowering property taxes across the state."

The governor and legislators are working against a deadline to get a budget approved before the new fiscal year Tuesday.

"We're very, very close to an agreement on everything," said state Senate co-leader Jeff Klein. "It's really everything, the property tax, renter relief, universal pre-K; it's charter school issues."

An agreement would clear the way for the Legislature to vote on measures Monday. The legislative leaders briefed their respective party conferences Thursday.

Klein, a Bronx Democrat, said Thursday that college tuition assistance for students living in the country illegally was still being discussed. "We haven't really come up with any solution on the Dream Act yet," he said.

Legislators overseeing the public safety portion of the budget said Wednesday night that it contained no language either authorizing or prohibiting Cuomo's proposal to fund more college classes in state prisons.

The Cuomo administration also proposed merging the state's bank tax it into the corporate tax and cutting the rate from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent. While the Senate and Assembly endorsed the revisions, the Assembly proposed leaving the rate at 7.1 percent.

Critics of the proposal said it also contains a gift to Wall Street with a provision permitting banks, including big investment banks, to be taxed on 8 percent of their net income from trading and selling stocks, bonds and other securities. That's based on a statistical model assuming about 8 percent of a bank's securities customers are from New York, the rest from elsewhere.

Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, said he didn't know about it.

The governor, Assembly and Senate have all proposed increasing state aid for public education above the current $21 billion level and funding pre-kindergarten. While Cuomo would add about $800 million more in the coming year, the Assembly proposed adding another $400 million beyond that. All three had differing versions of property tax relief.