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Cuomo, Lawmakers Reach Deal on Budget in New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has vowed to bring spending under control in his state, has reached a deal with lawmakers on a budget that would cut back school funding and create a new, competitive pool of funding for districts.

Cuomo and state legislators announced over the weekend that they had reached an agreement that would close a budget deficit of $10 billion.

The $132.5 billion spending plan would reduce state spending overall by over 2 percent. It would reduce school spending by $1.2 billion, which wasn't quite as deep as the $1.5 billion the governor had originally proposed. Those cuts have drawn strong objections from teachers' unions.

Since winning election last November, Cuomo has called for cutting taxes and spending in his state, arguing that high taxes are hindering economic development.

Cuomo also proposed the creation of $500 million in competitive grants to districts, which would reward them for improving student performance and making structural changes to save money and do more with less. The governor and lawmakers have agreed to go forward with that proposal, according to a statement released by Cuomo's office yesterday.

The governor has likened the program to a state-level version of the $4 billion federal Race to the Top competition.

"This was a major policy goal of the governor," Morris Peters, a spokesman for the New State Division of the Budget, explained in an interview. To date, "there was never any tie to results, in terms of accountability or efficiency. The governor was committed to changing that dynamic."

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