He said a combination of factors – including federal reforms that could eliminate deductions for state and local taxes [which means generous Blue States will no longer be subsidized by taxpayers from more frugal states - Ed] and the financial hit the state could take in the health care overhaul, which could cost $6 billion – sowed seeds of confusion in coming up with a responsible budget.
“We have a reputation of being financially stellar and I want to keep that reputation,” he said.
[Insert chortle and snicker here]
He called the plan to make tuition free at state colleges and universities for students in families making $125,000 or less a “life-changer” that will make higher education “affordable and accessible” for New Yorkers.
“College is today what high school was 50 years ago,” Cuomo said .[And why is that? What could have caused high schools to have failed so badly over the past 50 years? Why the teacher's union has grown more powerful and influential over those decades, and surely their members know best how to educate a child.]
Increasing educational opportunities for state residents will not only create a more attractive climate for business, but is also important on a “moral level.”
But then, there's this take on Mr. Cuomo's motives:
As the Assembly on Saturday began passing the bills to implement the state’s late and record-setting $153.1 billion spending plan, Cuomo was already touting his “progressive” largesse.
Appealing to key left-wing constituencies that could help him in a Democratic presidential primary, the governor poured $163 million into a college-scholarship program; gave a $35 million tax break to workers who pay union dues; created a $10 million immigrant legal defense fund; and renewed the millionaire tax.
The moves add up to a “press release for his presidential ambitions,” scoffed Assemblyman Al Graf, a Long Island Republican.
“He’s trying to get his progressive bona fides up. He’s saying, ‘Look at how progressive I am,’ ’’ he said.
“Cuomo has clearly taken a left-hand turn on Route 2020 with this budget,” said Democratic consultant Evan Thies. “He will point to wins for Democratic constituencies.”
Democrats called the budget— which will be voted on by the state Senate Sunday — was a “win for unions, immigrants and progressives,” whose help Cuomo will also need for his 2018 re-election campaign.
“Hard to overstate what a big deal this is symbolically and practically for labor. While [Republicans] are moving Right-to-Work bills, Cuomo sends a message,” labor strategist Neal Kwatra tweeted Saturday.
Cuomo trumpeted his immigrant legal defense fund as a response to President Trump’s “dramatic plans” to restrict immigration and deport undocumented people.
Graf warned that if Cuomo rebukes the president on immigration and other policies, there could be consequences since a third of the state’s budget comes from the federal government.
“He’s actually playing chicken with a semi or he’s playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun,” Graf said.