By Jack O’Donnell
Lawmakers finalized the state’s $168 billion 2018-19 state budget late Friday and early Saturday, with a deal that includes a new state tax code as a response to federal changes, a plan to combat sexual harassment, and more money for education.
A number of the more controversial policy items from Cuomo’s 2018 agenda were stripped from the spending plan including the Child Victims Act, which raises the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse; the DREAM Act, which enables undocumented immigrants to qualify for college assistance programs; and early voting.
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
- 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 after school programs.
- Implements the nation’s most aggressive program to combat sexual harassment.
- Institutes protections to ensure New York’s elections remain free from outside influence and cyberattacks.
- Provides $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 that 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 Street 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.
- Decouples from Federal Tax Code: The FY 2019 Budget decouples the state tax code from the federal tax code, where necessary, to avoid more than $1.5 billion in State tax increases brought solely by increases in federal taxes.