A look at key items in New York’s new $168.3 billion budget
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Here’s a look at some of the key items in a new $168.3 billion state budget passed by New York state lawmakers Saturday:
NYC TOLLS: In an effort to address traffic congestion and raise money for mass transit, the state will impose surcharges of $2.50 on taxi rides south of 96th Street in Manhattan. Rides on Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services in the same zone would come with a $2.75 surcharge. Supporters see the surcharges as just the first phase of a plan to roll out new congestion tolls on private vehicles in future years.
The surcharges will raise an estimated $415 million annually for repairs and upgrades to New York City subways.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT: The budget creates a uniform policy for employees of state and local governments, as well as state contractors and freelancers. It prohibits secret harassment settlements involving state officials, and directs the state labor agency to create a new standard for sexual harassment policies for private companies. For private companies it also prohibits mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims.
OPIOID TAX: Opioid manufacturers and distributors will pay a fee expected to raise some $100 million annually for efforts to combat addition. The specific fee for each company would be based on market share.
TAX CHANGES: Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed to include some tax measures to help ease the pain of the new federal tax code for homeowners expecting to see their taxes go up. The new federal law caps a deduction for state and local taxes that is especially popular in high-tax states like New York. Under Cuomo’s plan, the state would offer tax credits to individuals who make charitable contributions to public education or health care programs. The state also will allow companies to pay a payroll tax in lieu of their employee’s income taxes. Salaries would be adjusted accordingly.
EDUCATION SPENDING: The new budget deal calls for $1 billion in additional spending on K-12 education, for a total of $26.7 billion. Total spending on higher education is set at $7.6 billion.
LEGISLATIVE PAY: One budget provision will create a new legislative pay commission to determine whether members of the Senate and Assembly deserve a pay raise. Lawmakers now make a base salary of $79,500 and haven’t seen an increase since the late 1990s.
WATER QUALITY: The state will invest $20 million for upgrades to the Niagara Falls wastewater treatment plant after it leaked a foul discharge last summer. The budget also sets aside $65 million to fight algae blooms in upstate lakes, and continues a $2.5 billion effort to improve drinking water and wastewater infrastructure statewide.
RAPE KITS: Authorities will now be required to store forensic rape kits for 20 years to ensure the evidence remains available for use in investigations and prosecutions. Current law only requires that they be retained for 30 days.
SOCIAL MEDIA ADS: Groups paying for ads on Facebook and other Internet platforms will have to disclose their identities.
CHANGING STATIONS: The state building code will now require all new public restrooms to include diaper changing stations in both men’s and women’s facilities.
POLICE SEX LOOPHOLE: One provision will close a legal loophole that allowed police to have sex with those in their custody by claiming it was consensual.
TAMPONS IN SCHOOL: Public non-charter schools will now be required to provide free feminine hygiene products in restrooms for students in grades 6 through 12.
NYC HOUSING: The budget includes $250 million in new money for repairs to New York City public housing. Cuomo also says he will sign an order to create an independent monitor to help oversee repairs.
PENN STATION: Language in the spending plan declares Penn Station to be an “unreasonable risk to the public,” a formal determination intended to help the state as it negotiates with Madison Square Garden to redevelop the area around the dilapidated train station in Manhattan. The formal declaration could be needed if the state tries to take control of the area using eminent domain, or it could be leverage to help the state in negotiations.