Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor
Gov. Cuomo, flanked by State Budget Director Robert Mujica (l.) and Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David, announced that the 2018 State Budget had been passed last Thursday.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced the passage of the Fiscal Year 2018 State Budget – a $153.1 billion spending plan that, according to Cuomo, builds on New York’s fiscal discipline over the last six years while strengthening the middle class, reducing taxes, and making smart investments in the state’s future.
“With this budget, New York is once again leading the nation and showing what responsible government can achieve. The result is a budget that advances the core progressive principles that built New York: investing in the middle class, strengthening the economy and creating opportunity for all,” the governor said. “This Budget continues the progress we have achieved to improve the lives of New Yorkers, and build a stronger, better Empire State that truly lives up to its motto: Excelsior.”
Highlights of the budget include:
- Increases Education Aid by $1.1 billion, including a $700 million increase in Foundation Aid, bringing the new Education Aid total to $25.8 billion or an increase of 4.4 percent.
- Extends tax rate on millionaires, preserving as much as $4.5 billion in annual revenue – 45,000 taxpayers impacted, 50 percent non-residents.
- Begins Middle Class Tax Cut – saving taxpayers $250 on average next year, and 6 million New Yorkers $700 annually when fully effective.
- Invests $163 million to make college tuition free for middle-class families at SUNY and CUNY, and an additional $8 million to increase access to e-books statewide.
- Supports New York’s middle-class families by doubling New York State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
- Raises the age of criminal responsibility so that 16- and 17-year-olds are no longer prosecuted as adults.
- Supports and expands New York’s $100 billion infrastructure program.
- Delivers $2.5 billion in funding to advance the creation or preservation of 100,000 affordable and 6,000 supportive housing units.
- Invests $2.5 billion in the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.
- Includes $70 million for I ❤ New York to promote statewide tourism.
According to the administration, the FY 2018 Budget continues funding for the State’s $20 billion comprehensive, five-year plan for affordable and supportive housing to ensure New Yorkers who are homeless or at risk of homelessness have safe and secure housing. The budget includes $2.5 billion in funding to advance the creation or preservation of 100,000 affordable and 6,000 supportive housing units.
The budget also increases education aid by $1.1 billion, including a $700 million increase in Foundation Aid, and enacts Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship program to make college affordable at SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges for working- and middle-class families. The program provides free tuition to families making up to $125,000 per year, and nearly 940,000 New York families are eligible for the program. However, under the program, New Yorkers will be required to live and work in-state for the number of years they received the Excelsior Scholarship.
“Why should New Yorkers pay for your college education and then you pick up and you move to California?” Cuomo said during a call with state editorial writers, according to a report in the New York Post.
Additionally, this fiscal plan re-establishes a privately controlled board of directors for the New York Racing Association. The new board will have 17 members: the CEO, eight executive committee members, and two individuals each appointed by the governor, the Senate and the Assembly. Breeders and horsemen each will have a member. The proposal also increases oversight by enhancing the powers of the Franchise Oversight Board, which will help safeguard the accomplishments of transitional board.
Cuomo also noted that this budget invests $100 billion in major infrastructure projects across the state, including the John F. Kennedy International Airport Transformation, which earmarks $564 million to reconfigure the Grand Central/Van Wyck interchange and the Van Wyck itself, saving motorists a combined travel time of 7.4 million hours annually going to and from JFK, according to the governor.
“I am thankful that after a long series of negotiations, the governor and Legislature, have adopted a rather careful spending plan for the 2018 Fiscal Year, which provides services and assistance to the middle class, students, seniors and veterans of our state,” said State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach). “We witnessed the problems that occur when an increasing number of non-fiscal policy issues are included in the budget. The budget also extends the Cross Bay Bridge reimbursement for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents, and improves tax relief programs, such as STAR, helping thousands of New Yorkers save money around tax time.”