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Cuomo looking to help out cities

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Cuomo looking to help out cities
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Governor Andrew Cuomo has been clear that the state can't afford to bail out any local governments that are struggling financially, but that doesn't mean local officials are entirely on their own. During a press conference Thursday, the governor said he is working on several strategies to help communities facing potential fiscal peril. Our Nick Reisman has that story.

NEW YORK STATE -- As cities and counties across the state continue to face fiscal pressure, some help may be coming from Albany. Governor Andrew Cuomo says he is considering individual options for municipal governments who were hit hard by the financial crisis.

“We're looking at various approaches on how to help cities more on an individual basis than a collective basis and that's primarily for the agenda next year,” Cuomo said.

Cities ranging from Long Beach on Long Island to post-industrial communities like Syracuse, Yonkers and Newburgh have all felt the pinch thanks in part to expensive employee pensions, a shrinking tax base and the sluggish growth following the economic recession.

Cuomo said, “The upstate cities in some cases have terrible financial pressures and we understand that and we're looking at a number of approaches on how we can help them.”

But fiscal conservatives want the governor to push for more sweeping changes, including a long-sought suspension of the Triborough amendment, which guarantees step increases for public workers, and changes to the compulsory binding arbitration for police and fire contracts, which is due to expire in June 2013.

“The tone and the wording of his statement today indicates avoid any kind of comprehensive reforms, which is unfortunate, but he clearly doesn't want to commit himself yet,” said EJ McMahon of the Empire Center for NYS Policy.

But a bailout or loan for local governments is not believed to be on the table. After all, the state has its own budget deficit of nearly $1 billion this coming fiscal year, which begins April 1.

“We are not going to be in a position to spend money. You know we are not projecting a year where we are above zero.”

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