Photo Courtesy of the Governor’s Office
Governor Cuomo said that the FY 2018 Executive Budget advances his Middle Class Recovery Act.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently unveiled the proposed the $152.3 billion Fiscal Year 2018 Executive Budget, which, he said, builds on the state’s fiscal discipline over the last six years while strengthening the middle class, reducing taxes, and making smart investments in New York’s future.
Highlights of the balanced Budget include:
- Increases education aid by $1 billion for a total increase of 4.1 percent, including $961 million for school aid, bringing the new school aid total to $25.6 billion.
- Increases State Medicaid spending under the growth cap (3.2 percent) to $18.3 billion.
- Caps price of prescription drugs sold to Medicaid by state review board at no cost.
- Expands Buy American provisions to all procurement over $100,000, which, as Cuomo characterized it, is an indication of the administration “protecting our state’s manufacturing and construction sectors.”
- Invests $2 billion over five years for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.
- Doubles New York State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
- Begins Middle Class Tax Cut for six million New Yorkers – saving households $250 on average next year and $700 annually when fully effective.
- Extends tax rate on millionaires – 45,000 taxpayers impacted, 50 percent non-residents, according to the administration.
According to Cuomo, the FY 2018 Executive Budget “continues the progress made to strengthen educational outcomes and increase access to high-quality learning across the state.” The governor earned attention earlier this month when U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) joined him at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City to unveil the Excelsior Scholarship program: Cuomo proposes making college tuition-free for New York’s middle-class families at all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges. The program, according to the administration, is the first of its kind in the nation “and will help alleviate the crushing burden of student debt while enabling thousands of students to realize their dream of higher education.” Under Excelsior, tuition-free college would begin immediately for students of families making up to $100,000 annually, and phase in over the next two years to those making $125,000 annually. Once fully phased in, the program is estimated to cost $163 million per year.
Additionally, this year’s Executive Budget Proposal includes a new initiative for voter-approved county-wide shared services property tax savings plans. According to Cuomo, counties will be required to work with the other local governments contained within their county, as well as with the community and civic leaders, to develop these plans. The plans must generate real, recurring savings for taxpayers by eliminating duplicative services and proposing coordinated services to enhance purchasing power, such as sharing expensive transportation or emergency equipment. Taxpayers will then vote on these cost-saving plans in a referendum in the November 2017 general election.
Cuomo said the FY 2018 Budget continues his “focus on revitalizing New York’s economy, creating well-paying jobs and investing in key capital projects across the state,” including the JFK Master Plan: As part of the Governor’s plan to transform John F. Kennedy International Airport into a 21st Century transportation hub, the state will provide $1.5 billion to improve roadway access to JFK by eliminating traffic bottlenecks at the Kew Gardens interchange, and increasing traffic capacity on the Van Wyck Expressway. The “significant investment of public resources,” including an additional $1.5 billion from the Port Authority, will provide impetus for private sector investment at a transformed and “reimagined JFK,” driving the total investment potential as high as $10 billion, Cuomo said.