New York state pushes education, ethics reforms in new budget

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York lawmakers passed a $142 billion budget on Wednesday, the start of the state’s fiscal year, pushing through extra funding for education reforms and new ethics rules for legislators.

“For the fifth year in a row, the state budget holds spending growth below 2 percent and continues a record of fiscal discipline that has reversed decades of budgets that increased spending faster than inflation or personal income growth,” Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement after lawmakers agreed late on Sunday on a budget plan.

The budget includes $1.3 billion in extra education funding tied to reforms to the education system, including changes to the teacher evaluation system, bonuses for high performing teachers, and expedited procedures to remove teachers.

Ethics reform includes the mandatory disclosure of income over $1,000, pension forfeiture for corruption, and an electronic system to track lawmakers’ attendance at official events for which they are claiming per diem charges.

The budget also includes $5.4 billion in settlements the state reached with banks. That money will be used to fund infrastructure investments such as the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River and economic development initiatives for the upstate New York.

“This fifth consecutive on-time budget builds upon the progress we are making to revitalize the state’s economy and spend only what taxpayers can afford,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, said in a statement on the New York Senate’s website on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Megan Davies and Edward Krudy; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Paul Simao)

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