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New York state budget passes

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Sat, Mar 31st 2018 10:55 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces the highlights of the fiscal year 2019 budget. (Photo by Mike Groll/Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo/Flickr)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces the highlights of the fiscal year 2019 budget. (Photo by Mike Groll/Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo/Flickr)
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday announced the highlights of the fiscal year 2019 budget. The budget "builds on the state's record of delivering for New Yorkers by making the highest-ever investment in K-12 education, enacting a nation-leading women's agenda, advancing 21st century transportation solutions, protecting taxpayers against federal tax changes, strengthening the middle class, and making strategic investments in New York's future to drive growth and create opportunity for all."
For the eighth consecutive year, the budget is balanced and holds spending growth to 2 percent or less.
"This budget is a bold blueprint for progressive action that builds on seven years of success and helps New York continue to lead amid a concerted and sustained assault from Washington on our values and principles," Cuomo said. "We put into place the strongest and most comprehensive anti-sexual harassment protections in the nation, ending once and for all the secrecy and coercive practices that have enabled this unacceptable behavior for far too long.
"New York will also become the first state to implement new measures to shield families from the devastating federal tax law's elimination of full state and local deductibility - an economic arrow aimed at the heart of this state's economy.
"It also protects New York's future with record funding for education, coupled with new reforms that finally ensure transparency and equity in how that funding is distributed.
"This budget also delivers for the most vulnerable among us, including the NYCHA tenants who have had to live with mold, lead and no heat and were placed at risk by a failed bureaucracy, and those who have had to endure the injustice that is Rikers Island.
"With this budget, we chart a path forward and ever upwards toward a better future for all New Yorkers."
Highlights of the FY 2019 budget:
State operating funds spending is $100.1 billion - for the eighth consecutive year, holding growth to 2 percent (state operating funds exclude Federal funds and capital).
•All funds spending $168.3 billion for FY 2019.
•Protects New Yorkers from negative federal tax implications with new state tax code.
•Continues the phase-in of the $4.2 billion middle class tax cut to deliver relief to 6 million New Yorkers - saving households $250 on average and $700 annually when fully effective.
•Increases education aid by approximately $1 billion (3.9 percent), to a record total of $26.7 billion for the 2018-19 school year and a 36 percent increase since 2012.
•Requires school districts to provide information on how they allocate funding to schools in order to increase transparency.
•Invests $25 million to expand prekindergarten and afterschool programs.
•Implements the nation's most aggressive program to combat sexual harassment.
•Extends the storage timeline for forensic rape kits from 30 days to 20 years.
•Institutes landmark protections to ensure New York's elections remain free from outside influence and cyberattacks.
•Provides historic new $250 million investment to NYCHA to deliver quality living conditions to tenants, and implements new oversight measures by statute and executive order.
•Includes design/build legislation to expedite the construction of new jails to replace the Rikers Island Jail Complex, the reconstruction of the BQE and NYCHA projects.
•Provides $7.6 billion in state support for higher education in New York - an increase of $1.5 billion or 25 percent since FY 2012.
•Invests $118 million to continue the successful Excelsior Scholarship.
•Includes $1.2 billion for strategic programs to make college more affordable and encourage the best and brightest students to build their future in New York.
•Establishes a first-in-the-nation opioid stewardship payment on manufacturers and distributors of opioids to fund the fight against the opioid epidemic.
•Fully funds the Subway Action Plan - provides New York City will fund half of $836 million plan in order to make immediate repairs to improve subway performance and maintenance.
•Enacts $2.75 surcharge on for-hire vehicles south of 96th St., in Manhattan, to help ease congestion and establish long-term funding stream for New York City public transportation.
•Expands the current New York City bus camera program, expands the time of day such camera program may operate, and directs the installation of at least 50 new traffic-monitoring cameras to enforce bus lane violations that impede mass transit service and create congestion.
Democrat New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said, "The governor and Legislature reached an on-time budget agreement amid an uncertain revenue picture and risks to federal aid.
"Still, there are areas of concern. As in past years, the budget negotiation process was mostly done behind closed doors, leaving the public in the dark about how taxpayer money will be spent. My office will provide a more detailed analysis of the enacted budget in the coming weeks."
Republican New York State Sen. Rob Ortt said, the budget is "a win" for Western New York families. 
"There is much to be proud of in this year's budget, namely, the ability of my colleagues and I in the Senate to block over $1 billion in new taxes and fees proposed by Gov. Cuomo and even higher taxes proposed by Assembly Democrats.
"The Senate continues to fight for our most vulnerable as evidenced by new disability funding and substantial funding to address mental illness - specifically prioritizing children's mental health. In addition, a record $247 million in funding will help further combat the heroin and opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment and recovery services.
"I successfully fought for the inclusion of $40 million for flood relief so we can continue to assist the residents along Lake Ontario, and ensure government makes good on the promises made when the waters first ravaged our shores.
"Finally, thanks to new reforms, New York's taxpayers will no longer be forced to foot the bill for perpetrators in workplace sexual harassment cases.
"Unfortunately, I am disappointed that Assembly Democrats rejected the Senate's proposal to provide schools with necessary funding for resource officers. Instead of choosing to help protect our children, they opted to continue their anti-gun political posturing."
Ortt voted no on what he called a "gun grab."
"Federal law already covers gun ownership for violent offenders. This loose language will do nothing to further protect victims of domestic violence, but will unconstitutionally target law-abiding gun-owners as a weapons confiscation tool. This is a standalone, non-fiscal measure that was lumped in as part of the budget process, passed unnecessarily with a message of necessity, in the dead of the night of a Holy Weekend. And sadly, we continue to see nothing on protecting our children through security upgrades or school resource officers, and children's mental health services remain woefully underfunded. I cannot, in good conscience, pat myself on the back and pretend we're making our state safer. Our children are sitting ducks in our schools - all because progressive Democrats cannot stomach the reality that police, law enforcement and security actually protect us."
Republican New York State Sen. Chris Jacobs said, "The budget we approved eliminated $1 billion in new taxes and fees originally proposed by the governor, while cutting taxes to spur investment and create jobs. When you combine that with the successful restoration of the business tax credits the governor proposed deferring, you have a budget that promotes a more positive business environment and better supports the economic recovery underway in Western New York."
He added, "For the eighth straight year state spending is being held at or below 2 percent. This self-imposed spending cap we have insisted on has saved taxpayers a cumulative total of approximately $52 billion."
Jacobs said he and his Senate majority colleagues made it a priority to protect and expand the STAR property tax relief program and rejected the governor's proposed cap on STAR benefits. The new budget fully funds the Enhanced STAR program for seniors, providing $865 million of relief. It also extends the property tax rebate check program. Many homeowners will see their rebate checks double to an average of $380 this year and $532 next year.
"Overall, I am pleased with the budget that was approved, because it addresses a number of critical needs in our community while protecting taxpayers," Jacobs said. "For the remainder of our session, however, I will continue pushing for the approval of our regulatory reform package. Decreasing the cost of local government and increasing the quality of our business climate are too important to not continue fighting for."
Republican Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said he is pleased with the on-time budget, but troubled by what he called "overspending and waste."
"This year's budget contains critical funding to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, assist veterans, improve our infrastructure and help those affected by sexual assault and workplace harassment, still I'm troubled by its massive overspending and waste," he said. "We can no longer depend on a system where four men in a room meet behind closed doors to decide the fate of our state. The budget should be discussed with complete transparency, so everyone is aware of what's spent and which programs we're funding.
"The 2018-19 enacted budget allocated spending to numerous areas of need, but I believe we can streamline this process and eliminate spending on many wasteful programs to save money for taxpayers."

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