Cuomo releases annual state budget proposal
January 15, 2019 04:19 PM
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his $178 billion state budget proposal to a New York Legislature that's controlled by Democrats for the first time in a decade.
After a mid-December speech and a New Year's Day inauguration address in which he outlined his progressive agenda for 2019, the third-term governor combined the traditional State of the State speech with the mandated release of his spending plan for the fiscal year that begins April 1.
Cuomo says New York should legalize recreational marijuana for adults over 21, a step which he says would raise an estimated $300 million in tax revenues each year.
Cuomo wants to permit personal use as well as retail sales. Marijuana would be subject to taxes at the cultivation and wholesale level as well as a 20 percent tax on retail sales.
Cuomo says he wants to let cities and counties prohibit retail pot shops within their boundaries if they choose.
Cuomo included his proposal in his state budget recommendation, meaning lawmakers could act before April 1.
New York would be the 11th state to legalize marijuana and the second largest after California.
Cuomo says he'll include safety reforms for limousines in his state budget proposal in response to the October crash of a stretch limo that killed 20 people in an upstate town.
The governor says he'll include stricter limo and large passenger vehicle regulations in the spending plan he released.
Cuomo's proposals include a ban on reconfigured limos like the modified SUV that crashed into a store's parking lot in Schoharie on Oct. 6, killing the driver, 17 passengers and two pedestrians.
Prosecutors have charged the operator of the limo company with criminally negligent homicide, alleging he allowed an improperly licensed driver to operate a vehicle deemed unserviceable by state inspectors.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Drivers entering the busiest parts of Manhattan would pay a new toll intended to finance subway improvements in 2021 under a proposal from Cuomo.
The plan lacked critical details, however, such as what the toll would be and whether discounts would be offered to low-income commuters or local businesses.
The toll would be levied on vehicles heading below 60th Street.
Revenue from the surcharge would fund improvements to the city's beleaguered subways. Supporters say the toll would also reduce gridlock in the nation's largest city.
It would be up to lawmakers to approve the toll. Cuomo's budget proposal includes funding to install the necessary electronic tolling equipment.
Cuomo wants to ban the use of single-use plastic bags at stores across New York and add a 5-cent deposit to most non-alcoholic beverages not already included in the state's bottle bill.
Cuomo's effort to get a plastic bag ban passed last year was shot down by the then-Republican-controlled Senate.
His bottle bill expansion would include sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit and vegetable beverages, and ready-to-drink bottled tea and coffee. Products such as dairy milk and infant formula would be exempted.
Cuomo wants to spend another $500 million for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and allocate an additional $110 million in capital funding for state parks and historic sites.
Updated: January 15, 2019 04:19 PM
Created: January 15, 2019 12:17 PM
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