ALBANY – State lawmakers have finally come to an agreement on a new state budget.
Upstate Uber, increased tuition assistance, and more money for schools are just a few of the items in the new $152 billion state budget poised for passage today in the State Legislature.
Late Tuesday night the state Senate began debate over the spending plan after lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo resolved a stalemate that forced them to blow past a Saturday budget deadline.
The Senate planned to return to wrap up their voting today, when the Assembly also planned to take up the budget.
The budget legislation keeps taxes flat, increases public education spending by $1 million, raises college tuition assistance by enacting the free-tuition“Excelsior Scholarship” program, and invests $2.5 billion in upgrades for the state’s aging water infrastructure.
It also would allow Uber and Lyft to expand into upstate cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. The two app-based ride-hailing services are now limited to the New York City area.
Another provision – and perhaps the most contested in stalled negotiations – would end the automatic prosecution and incarceration of 16- and 17-year-old offenders as adults. The “Raise the Age” issue was a priority for both the Governor and democrats in the legislature, but Senate Republicans had balked on the issue, saying youthful offenders who commit violent crimes should still be punished for their deeds – although they agreed they shouldn’t be jailed with adult prison inmates.
The budget was due by Saturday, when the state began a new fiscal year. But it was delayed by disagreement over the juvenile justice reform piece, as well as education funding and an affordable housing tax credit for New York City developers.