On Jan. 17, Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented his 2012-13 Executive Budget and Reform Plan to New York State legislators, which included plans for closing the current $2 billion state deficit by accelerating economic growth and rearranging the proportion of funds allocated to different aspects of the budget.
Cuomo's presentation primarily focused on select infrastructure projects funded through private investment that would have maximum positive economic impact within the state.
Among these projects was the construction of a new convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack on Long Island, N.Y. The endeavor coincides with the governor's plan to expand the NYS gambling industry through greater emphasis on casinos and racing.
The governor also proposed the transformation of the Javits Center, a convention center on New York City's West Side, with the hopes that the restoration might revitalize the local economy.
Energy Highways – networks of technology and investors that utilize the state's untapped oil and natural gas – were another key component to the governor's proposal.
The new budget would also provide funding for the improvement of state roads, bridges, municipal water systems, state parks and flood control projects.
Along with allocations for infrastructure, the budget proposal appropriates $1 billion for Buffalo's economic development. The governor justified this expenditure by saying that this investment would bring business back to Buffalo to address the chronic poverty and population decline in the area.
While Cuomo's reforms proposed an in-depth plan to address the issue of New York State's "Education Crisis," which has the state ranked 38th in high school graduation rates, the State University of New York and City University of New York allotment under the new budget will remain at 2.2 percent.
Other reforms within the proposal included a decrease in the size of state bureaucracy through the elimination of obsolete programs, the reduction of administrative costs and executive compensation and the restructuring of health care so that it is entirely federally subsidized.
When addressing the press after the release of his proposal, Cuomo said, "Through fiscal discipline and working in partnership with the private sector, we are making New York a pro-growth state once again. This budget represents the next step in our plan to transform New York State."
Students are more likely to see the effects of this budget at home than on campus. Many from the Buffalo area may return home for the summer to see the results of the $1 billion invested in new businesses and waterfront infrastructure, while students from downstate are likely to experience the effects of the new convention centers in New York City and Long Island. Faculty and students should anticipate traffic delays throughout the year as the state invests in the improvement of roads and bridges.
"I think that, in theory, investment in infrastructure is a good idea," freshman Kaitlyn Lambert said. "I just feel that money may be better invested in trying to keep businesses from leaving New York State."
"I think that we have dated infrastructure and that strong infrastructure is integral to creating a strong New York," freshman Sean Malone said.