Lawmakers in New York passed a rare on-time state budget early Thursday morning.
Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that while meeting a deadline might not seem like much, it could mean that the embattled state Legislature has finally reached a crossroads.
The $132.5 billion budget carries a two percent spending cut and eliminates $10 billion, including massive cuts to school aid, public colleges, health care, and social service programs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo - who saw lawmakers agree to nearly every aspect of his executive budget - called the spending plan "transformational."
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward said this year's budget process was a "step in the right direction." She says the budget features the sort of spending restraints necessary to bring the state back to fiscal solvency.
"It featured the compromise and transparency that has been sorely lacking in past years, while providing tax credits and incentives that will help revitalize the economy and bring the private sector back to life," Sayward said in an emailed statement.
Sayward hopes a fiscally-responsible budget does not lead to new "broad-base" tax increases, adding that a smart fiscal plan should attract jobs to the North Country while "closing the majority of our out-year budget gap."
"Much more needs to be accomplished this legislative session," Sayward said. "We must move forward promptly to eliminate unfunded mandates and job killing regulations in order to ease the burden facing taxpayers in the North Country."
State Senator Betty Little says the new state budget includes funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and the new Recharge NY Power Program, which aims to promote economic growth.
The fiscal plan that passed early Thursday morning also includes a prison system capacity reduction plan, Little says.
"I've spoken with the governor about this issue, he has acknowledged the economic impact of closing a facility on rural areas and he is committed to