Legislature moving toward passage of new state budget; deal struck

Legislature moving toward passage of new state budget; deal struck

The budget is due by Sunday, when a new state fiscal year begins.

NY lawmakers, with a base pay of $79,500, also will get a chance at their first raise since 1999 as the budget includes a legislative compensation review commission. Early voting and tougher oversight of much-criticized economic development programs fell by the wayside. We wish to express our deep appreciation for Speaker Heastie's leadership on this issue, thank Senator Neil Breslin for his advocacy in urging the funding in the Senate Democratic Conference, and applaud Governor Cuomo for yet again recognizing the importance of a strong urban core for the Capital Region even during a hard budget year and dedicating these essential funds to our Capital City.

The budget is also likely to introduce an optional payroll tax for businesses to circumvent the effects of the new federal tax law.

The budget is set to boost school aid by $600 million, double what Cuomo proposed in his January budget address, and increase total school funding by $1 billion.

A package of new sexual-harassment measures, including a requirement that companies bidding on state contracts have written policies on harassment that meet certain requirements, a new policy that will apply across state government and a limitation on confidentiality agreements in state settlements unless requested by a victim.

"I believe this is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that this legislature has passed in a long time", Sen.

"I guarantee you it's not going through the weekend", said Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, Onondaga County.

"I'm not Moses", he told reporters.

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Sexual harassment scandals have been all too common in Albany government circles.

In fiscal issues, the budget is also expected to include about $1 billion more in school aid statewide, or about a 4 percent increase.

Also included: new money for public schools and water quality and several tax changes meant to help New Yorkers negatively impacted by the new federal tax law.

The Assembly Majority is committed to making investments that ensure New York State is a better place to live, work and raise a family.

A new fee on for-hire vehicles in Manhattan below 96th Street would raise $415 million annually for the state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city's decaying subway system and has been the subject of repeated squabbles between Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Assemb. Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) asked during the debate.

Only about $20 million of the revenue will go to treatment, while the rest will go to the state's general fund, critics noted. Although lawmakers are loath to incur the wrath of the Catholic Church, funding is needed to fill a budget shortfall.

Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat who has been pushing for her colleagues to crack down on sexual harassment in state government, said she was "very disappointed" with the final measure because it wasn't broad enough.

The one gun proposal accepted by all sides was a proposal to remove firearms from abusers in domestic violence cases.

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