ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented the annual State of the State and State Budget Tuesday in Albany and the spending plan is filled with liberal policies that are expected to be realized in the coming months as the result of one-party Democratic rule at the Capitol.
The budget advances proposals that were nixed by the former Senate Republican majority, including tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants, ending cash bail and expanding opportunities for child sex abuse survivors to pursue civil claims.
It also broke new ground with the proposed legalization of adult-use marijuana and the addition of sports gambling at the four upstate commercial casinos.
Democratic state legislators, who are off to a fast start this year in Albany, were less enthusiastic about the governor’s plan to jam the budget proposal with policy initiatives, including some that were passed by the Legislature this week and are waiting for his signature.
Cuomo has argued that the policy-heavy budget is needed to ensure Democrats deliver on their campaign pledges in a timely manner.
While Democratic lawmakers said they liked most of what they heard in the governor’s speech, which elicited seven standing ovations, a fight could be shaping up over state education aid.
Cuomo wants to increase the state’s share by $1 billion to $27.7 billion, while calculating a new model for distributing aid that focuses on the need of individual schools and not school districts.
He said that under the existing funding formula the neediest schools aren’t getting their fair share.
As part of the governor’s focus on “tax fairness” and to ensure “vital investments” by the state, the budget estimates the governor’s spending plan would bring in $5.1 billion annually by extending and imposing higher taxes on wealthy New Yorkers, including a five-year renewal of the “Millionaire’s Tax’ and a new “fairness fee” on carried interest.
Cuomo is also trying again to collect sales taxes from all internet purchases. His proposal would apply the state’s five-cent deposit fee to more beverages, and expand a car rental surcharge to create new funding for upstate transit systems.
Total spending in the budget is $175 billion.
The legislature is required to finalize the spending plan by March 31.