Saturday, April 8, 2017

NY 2017 Budget Update

Late last night, New York reached agreement on the 7th Budget of Gov. Cuomo's Administration, a little late, the deal came more than six days after its Midnight April 1st Deadline. Cuomo emerged from his Capitol office late Friday night to announce a deal on a $153 billion state budget.

Some Highlights:

- It makes real a First-in-the-Nation Tuition-Free College program for Middle Class Families. By making College at Public Universities Tuition-Free for Families earning up to $125,000 a year. The Plan’s estimated price tag, some $163 million by 2019, had been questioned, as was the number of Students who might be able to use it. Initial estimates from Cuomo’s office put the number in the hundreds of thousands, but another Legislative analysis suggested that number could be as few as 32,000 Students. Cuomo said that Statewide school aid would increase by $1.1 Billion, or 4.4%, a larger boost than the Governor had proposed but less than the Assembly had hoped for.

- Will correct a long standing injustice by raising the age of Criminal Responsibility to 18. The State reversed an injustice and raised the Age of Criminal Responsibility once and for all, so that 16- and 17-year-olds are no longer automatically processed as Adults, but go to Family Court, beginning in October 2018.

- Does not require Online Marketplaces such as Etsy and Amazon to collect Sales Taxes, a decision hailed by Tech groups,

- Changes to the State’s system of Workers’ Compensation.

- Expanding Ride Hailing to Upstate New York. A victory for some Upstate Residents as ride-hailing, a common convenience in New York City, seemed poised to be expanded to Cities like Utica, Syracuse, and Buffalo.

- An extension of the so-called Millionaire’s Tax.

- A Renewal of a lapsed Tax-Abatement program (421-A, Property Tax Exemption Program) that spurs Affordable Housing.

- The Budget includes $2.5 Billion for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act for Water Infrastructure across the State. Clean Water has affected several Residents of the Capital Region. The Village of Hoosick Falls, town of Petersburgh, and Village of North Bennington discovered the Chemical PFOA was in their drinking Water. Since then, the Municipalities have been working with Lawmakers to implement systems that clean the Water Supply.

- $25 million in security was devoted to community centers to protect places like Jewish Community Centers, which received several bomb Threats across the Country this year.

Faced with what Cuomo called the threat of deep Federal Cuts from the Trump administration, the Budget also builds in a Mechanism that would allow the State to respond to cuts from Washington, Financial flexibility that would allow the State’s Division of the Budget to correct the State Budget for that Shortfall.

The one glaring Omission from the Budget Bills was Ethics Reform, an issue that has dogged Albany for decades and shows no sign of abating.

On April 8th, the Assembly voted to accept the Budget. The Senate passed it on April 9th.

One notable item left off the Budget was an extension for Mayoral Control of Schools.

CLICK HERE to read the 343 pages (PDF) Budget.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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