The New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on a $175 billion budget on March 31st that was full of non-budget initiatives, including changes to the cash bail system, a new tax on expensive homes and a first in the nation congestion pricing program.
Additional agreements include deals for a ban on plastic bags from retail stores, billions in funds for New York City’s troubled subway system and new provisions for voting and publicly financed campaigns.
Some highlights are:
- Criminal Justice Reform – elimination of cash bail for misdemeanors and non- violent felonies.
- School Aid – a 3.8 percent increase in state funding for education.
- Campaign/Election Reform – a commission will be created to determine specific aspects of the financing system, including eligibility thresholds and public financing limits for participating campaigns. The commission has until December 1st to release a framework for the agreement.
- Congestion Pricing – Motorists entering Midtown Manhattan below 60th street will be charged a toll. It is anticipated to raise more than $1 billion for the ailing public transit system. A panel of experts (under the control of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority) will set up the fee structure by the end of 2020.
- Plastic Bags – Beginning in March 2020, New York will ban single-use plastic bags with some exceptions. Municipalities have the option of imposing a five cent fee for paper bags.
- Marketplace Providers – a new requirement for “marketplace providers” to collect and remit sales tax for internet transactions. Part of the sales tax revenue will be used to support the MTA.
- Property Tax Cap – the 2 percent property tax cap will be made permanent.
- Pay Raises – The Governor and Lieutenant Governor both get pay raises. Governor Cuomo’s pay increases to $200,000 and Lt. Governor Hochul’s pay will grow to $190,000. The Legislature also will receive a $10,000 annual salary increase since they met the requirement to enact a budget by April 1st.
- Recreational Marijuana Legalization – A proposal to allow for the sale of recreational marijuana was not included in the final budget, although both Houses of the Legislature agreed to consider the topic during the remainder of this legislative session.