NY Budget Passes; Has Taxi Fee, Opioid Tax, Harassment Rules


Photo: Jim Bowen / CC BY 2.0

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Lawmakers in New York state passed a $168.3 billion state budget in the early hours Saturday that includes surcharges on taxi, Uber and Lyft rides in Manhattan and a new state sexual harassment policy written following the #MeToo movement.

The massive spending plan also sets out $1 billion in new education spending, investments in New York City subways and upstate water quality, along with new disclosure rules for online political ads.

On taxes, the budget contains changes intended to soften the blow of the new federal tax code, which will raise tax liabilities for many New Yorkers.



It also contains one new tax — a fee on opioid manufacturers that will raise $100 million a year to combat addiction.

The spending plan was hammered out during negotiations between legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. This year’s work was complicated by a $4 billion spending gap and the desire to respond to new policies from the Trump administration. Lawmakers passed a budget just ahead of a critical deadline on Sunday, when a new state fiscal year begins.

“This budget was the most difficult budget that I think we have done,” Cuomo told reporters late Friday. “We started with a big deficit. We’re under attack by the federal government. To get it (the budget) done early was a herculean task.”



In his initial budget recommendation to lawmakers in January, Cuomo inserted several policy proposals, including ones to extend the statute of limitations on child molestation, authorize advance voting and eliminate cash bail requirements in low-level criminal cases. All were stripped out after running into opposition with the Republican leaders of the state Senate.

That upset many advocates and progressive groups who have long pushed for the changes. They are vowing to try again after special Senate elections next month in Westchester County and the Bronx that could hand Senate control to the Democrats.

“Once again the leaders of New York State have failed victims of child sexual abuse,” said Gary Greenberg, a leading supporter of the unsuccessful Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations for child molestation and create a one-year litigation window allowing victims to sue over potentially decades-old abuse. “We will find a Governor and legislators who will pass a Child Victims Act.”

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