New York lawmakers have wrapped up approving a $175.5 billion state budget that includes a statewide ban on plastic bags and new tolls for driving into the busiest sections of Manhattan.
Lawmakers began debating budget legislation Sunday afternoon. The Democrat-controlled Senate finished passing budget bills around 2:30 a.m. Monday, followed about five hours later by the Assembly, also controlled by Democrats.
The ban on most single-use plastic bags will take effect March 1, 2020, while congestion pricing for driving into Manhattan south of 61st street isn’t expected to start until the following year.
Legislators also approved Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to make the 2 percent cap on local property taxes permanent and passed legislation eliminating cash bail for most criminal charges.
The budget agreement includes spending in the following categories:
- Total State Operating Funds: $102.1 billion; 2 percent growth
- All Funds spending $175.5 billion for FY 2020
- School Aid: $27.9 billion; 3.8 percent growth
- State Medicaid/Health Spending: $19.6 billion; 3.6 percent growth
Budget Highlights Include:
Permanent 2% Property Tax Cap: With the passage of this legislation, the inclusion of the permanent 2% property tax cap in the 2020 Budget will build upon the approximately $25 billion in taxpayer savings since the cap was implemented by the Governor in 2012.
Criminal Justice Reform: New York continues its commitment to a fairer criminal justice system with the inclusion of the following reforms in the 2020 Budget:
- Reforming Bail and Pretrial Detention Reform: As part of a plan to modernize New York’s bail system, cash bail will be eliminated for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, alongside a new requirement that police officers must issue desk appearance tickets to most people charged with misdemeanors and Class E felonies, rather than making a custodial arrest. Together, these reforms will ensure approximately 90 percent of people charged, but not yet convicted of a crime, are not sitting in jail awaiting trial solely because they do not have the economic resources to meet bail.
- Transforming the Discovery Process: In order to overhaul New York’s discovery process by which prosecutors were able to withhold basic evidence until the day the trial begins, legislation included in the 2020 Budget will require that both prosecutors and defendants share all information in their possession well in advance of trial. Defendants will also be allowed the opportunity to review whatever evidence is in the prosecution’s possession prior to pleading guilty to a crime. In addition, the legislation will ensure that victims and witnesses are protected from intimidation and other forms of coercion by providing prosecutors with the ability to petition a court for a protective order, shielding identifying information when necessary to ensure the safety of witnesses and the sanctity of the judicial process.
- Ensuring the Right to a Speedy Trial: Under New York State law, misdemeanors are required to be resolved within 90 days and felonies within 180 days, however, the average length of pretrial detention is far longer. To address this injustice, the 2020 Budget includes legislation that requires courts to take a proactive role in advising litigants on how time will be charged. When appropriate, courts will also inquire into the government’s readiness to proceed to trial and require that the government file all appropriate paperwork before a statement of readiness is accepted, ensuring that the government is not able to proceed to trial until the defendant has been provided with all of the information in the case against them.
MTA Reform and Funding: The 2020 Budget includes MTA reforms and new dedicated funding streams to the MTA.
It requires the MTA to develop a reorganization plan by June, modifies MTA Board appointments to align with appointing authority, requires the MTA to undergo an independent forensic audit and efficiency review, calls for a major construction review unit made up of outside experts to review major projects, implements a 20-year capital needs assessment beginning in 2023, increases the competitive procurement threshold from $100,000 to $1 million, establishes a 30-day review notice for comptroller contract approval, and requires public reporting on MTA performance metrics. The budget would require any Capital Program Review Board member who does not approve of the MTA capital plan to issue a written explanation for their veto, and gives the MTA the opportunity to respond and revise the plan so the member may withdraw their veto. The budget will also allow the MTA to debar any contractor that exceeds 10 percent of the contract cost or time on a capital construction project. The Enacted Budget requires any MTA capital project over $25 million to use design-build, saving the MTA time and money.
- Central Business District Tolling: The MTA funding includes a Central Business District tolling program, the first program of its kind in the nation. This will include the installation of electronic tolling devices on the perimeter of the Central Business District, defined as streets south of 60th Street in Manhattan. The program will be established, operated, and maintained by the TBTA, working closely with the New York City Department of Transportation for installation. A six-member Traffic Mobility Review Board will be established by the TBTA to advise on tolls, exemptions, and credits to ultimately be determined by the TBTA based on recommendations from the Board. Tolls will be variable and passenger vehicles will only be charged once per day. The implementation day will not be before December 31, 2020. This tolling program will leverage $15 billion, which will be dedicated to MTA capital needs.
- The Enacted Budget creates a dedicated lockbox to ensure that 100% of this revenue goes to the MTA capital budget and prohibits the use of these revenues for non-capital spending.
- Progressive Mansion Tax: To raise resources for the MTA, the 2020 Budget implements a progressive mansion tax on mansions with a combined top rate of 4.15% on the sale of properties valued at $25 million or above. This structure provides for efficient tax administration on high-end properties, raising $365 million that will be deposited into the MTA’s Central Business District tolling capital lockbox and will be used to support up to $5 billion in financing for MTA projects. The new rates go into effect on July 1, 2019.
- Internet Sales Tax: The Budget will provide a consistent framework for the collection of required sales taxes by internet marketplace providers, which is expected to annually generate $160 million in new revenue for local governments and $320 million for the MTA capital plan lockbox, supporting up to $5 billion. Other changes in sales taxes will generate another $48 million in new resources for county governments outside of New York City.
Increases Education Funding and Equity: An increase of over $1 billion in education aid will bring total education funding to a record $27.9 billion, with over 70 percent of the increased funding going to poorer districts. School districts would be required to report how they provide appropriate funding for certain schools.
Public Campaign Finance: The 2020 Budget establishes a public financing commission that will have the binding power to implement public campaign financing for legislative and statewide offices, authorizing up to $100 million annually in public funds. The commission will determine specific aspects of the public financing system, including eligibility thresholds, public financing limits, and contribution limits for participating candidates. The commission’s findings will be due in a report by December 1, 2019 and will be binding unless modified by law within 20 days.
Codifies the Affordable Care Act and Health Exchange into Law: The codification of key ACA provisions and the New York State Health Exchange into law to ensure that no matter what happens at the federal level, these key provisions are protected in New York State.
Prohibits the Use of Plastic Bags: The Budget includes legislation to ban single-use plastic bags provided to customers and allows counties and cities to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags, with 40 percent of the revenue supporting local programs to buy reusable bags for low and fixed income consumers, and 60 percent of the revenue supporting programs in the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.
Women’s Fertilization Coverage, Rape Shield Protections, and Child Care: The Enacted Budget mandates coverage for in-vitro fertilization and egg-freezing, establishes rape shield protections for victims of sex trafficking, reforms domestic violence shelter requirements, and invests $26 million in child care to maintain the market rate for districts outside of New York City.
Janus Protections: The Budget provides new safeguards for public sector unions and goes further by extending Janus protections to all local governments in New York and guaranteeing the right to organize and collectively bargain.
Voting Reform: Building upon voting reform passed within the first 10 weeks of the legislative session, additional legislation mandating three hours of paid time off for all New Yorkers to vote on Election Day, enacting online voter registration, funding e-poll books, and expanding upstate voting hours to begin at 6 a.m. are being enacted as part of this year’s Budget, and includes $10 million for early voting.
Clean Drinking Water: The 2020 Budget will invest an additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure, building on the State’s historic $2.5 billion investment.
Expands Eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship Free Tuition Program: As the state’s free tuition program enters its third year, SUNY and CUNY students whose families make up to $125,000 annually will now be eligible to apply for tuition-free college.
Regulates Limos: Enacts new regulations for the limo industry making it a class E felony for knowingly operating a limo where such operation causes the death of another person, creating heightened civil penalties – including higher fines – for operating without State Department of Transportation operating authority or violating DOT safety regulations. Additionally, State Police and DOT will have new authority to retrieve vehicle plates when limos are out of compliance. The Department of Motor Vehicles will be able to refuse and revoke registrations for limos that do not meet federal safety standards. If an unauthorized vehicle seeks an inspection at a licensed inspection station, the inspection station will now be required to report that vehicle to the DMV. Any inspection station found to have improperly issued inspections three times within an 18-month period will have its operating certificate suspended. Stretch limos will be prohibited from making U-turns. Commercial vehicles with a seating capacity of eight or more passengers will be required to carry increased insurance of at least $1.5 million in coverage.
The Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act: First passed by the Legislature earlier this year, the Enacted Budget implements and fully funds the Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act for $27 million.
Complete Census Count: This year’s budget authorizes up to $20 million for 2020 for outreach and education efforts to ensure all New Yorkers are counted as part of the census.
Source of Income Protections: New Yorkers who receive some form of lawful source of income including non-wage income or subsidies will now be protected against discrimination in housing. All New Yorkers, including but not limited to, certain domestic violence survivors, veterans, and disabled individuals will be able to file complaints through the New York State Division of Human Rights if they have been discriminated against because of their lawful source of income.
Renews Record Funding for the Environmental Protection Fund: The Budget includes record funding of $300 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history.
From the beginning, I said we will not do a budget that fails to address three major issues that have evaded this state for decades – the permanent property tax cap, criminal justice reform and an MTA overhaul including Central Business District Tolling.
I also said this budget must be done right – meaning it must be fiscally responsible and protect New York from the federal government’s ongoing economic assault on our state. I am proud to announce that together, we got it done. This agreement accomplishes our goals and enacts the transformative policies of our 100-day Justice Agenda, while keeping spending at 2% for the 9th consecutive year.
– Governor Andrew Cuomo