Andrew Cuomo sworn in as New York State's 56th governor
By NICK REISMAN
Gannett Albany Bureau
ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking a five percent pay cut as he seeks to freeze state workers' wages and is expected to propose deep cuts in health care and education spending.
But a battle with the unions representing state workers may be looming.
Cuomo announced that he returning $8,950 of his annual $179,000 salary. Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who makes $151,500 a year, will also take the five percent cut, as will members of the governor's executive staff.
The executive chambers' budget will also be cut five percent as well.
"Change starts at the top and we will lead by example," Cuomo said in a statement. "Families and business owners in every corner of the state have learned to do more with less in order to live within their means and government must do the same."
The state faces a $9.2 billion deficit in the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins April 1. New York also faces a combined $40 billion in deficits over the next three years.
With the state also facing a massive deficit last year, the unions did not agree to a wage freeze. 2 On Your Side spoke Craig Speers, a local representative for the Public Employees Federation.
REPORTER: Is there any circumstance under which you can see your union and others accepting a pay freeze?
SPEERS: Not without a long and careful negotiation at the bargaining table.
REPORTER: But you're willing to discuss it?
SPEERS: Both sides can discuss just about any proposal at the bargaining table.
This time, the unions may lack some of the traditional support they've received from Democrats in the state legislature.
"I think they have to be willing to be part of the solution, not carry the brunt of it, but they need to be part of the solution," said Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak (D-Cheektowaga).
Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo) agreed.
REPORTER: Will Speaker Silver and your fellow Democrats in the Assembly go along with some of the governor's reforms?
HOYT: I have to assume the answer is yes. Again, ask any legislator, if there is no money to give raises, should we give raises? The answer has to be no.
Cuomo said his top aide, Steven Cohen, will begin a review of all expenses within the governor's office and determine where reductions can be made.
Carol Kellermann, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, said in a statement, "The Governor's announcement of cuts in the Executive Chamber budget, including cuts to his own salary, demonstrate that sacrifices will be necessary in all aspects of State government if New York is to regain its fiscal health."
Cuomo is expected to provide the framework for an emergency spending bill Wednesday during his first State of the State address.
The full budget is scheduled to be release Feb. 1.
Cuomo will likely seek deep cuts to the budget, as well as a fundamental change in how state government pays for services.
2 On Your Side's Aaron Saykin contributed to this Report.