Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday proposed a $178 billion spending plan that seeks legalize adult use marijuana, hikes education spending by $956 million and seeks to codify aspects of the federal Affordable Care Act into state law while adhering to a 2 percent cap on year-over-year state spending.
The budget also closes a $3.1 billion budget deficit.
Cuomo is also backing the legalization of adult-use marijuana officially, estimating $300 million in revenue. Adult-use marijuana would be limited to those over age 21 and local governments would be allowed to opt out.
Cuomo also pledged to aid communities that have been impacted by harsh drug laws with the legalized marijuana law.
The proposal has three-tax plan for adult-use marijuana.
The first tax includes $1 per dry weight gram of cannabis and 25 cents per dry weight of cannabis trim. Another tax would be imposed on the wholesaler to a retail dispensary of 20 percent of the invoice price. And a third tax is a 2 percent tax of the sale from wholesaler to retailer of the invoice price.
Revenues will be used for data tabulation, monitoring and reporting, the governor’s traffic safety committee, small business development, mental health treatment and research on cannabis uses as well public health education.
Cuomo’s education spending proposal also seeks to increase foundation aid by $338 million, far short of what education advocates are seeking to fund schools.
But Cuomo is also seeking to change how individual school districts fund poorer schools, pledging to push for equity on the local level.
This is Cuomo’s first budget of his third term with an all-Democratic state Legislature for the first time in his tenure. Lawmakers are already approving a flurry of top-line policy issues such as reforms to the state’s voting laws, protections for transgender New Yorkers, with more bills on gun control and abortion rights expected to come.
Still, Cuomo has signaled he wants to go further on election reform issues, including extending primary day voting hours for upstate counties. He also called for the passage of the DREAM Act, being named after the late state Sen. Jose Peralta.
Cuomo called for congestion pricing for the MTA
He wants a ban on campaign contributions from corporations and the creation of a public financing system.
On gun control, Cuomo wants an extended background check for firearm purchases.
Many of these measures, some of which have been long stalled in the Republican-led state Senate, are likely to be approved given Democratic control of the state Legislature.
Lawmakers are already signaling they will take up many of the proposals outside of the budget, an inverse of previous years in which major policy matters were included in the final budget deal.
“It’s a lot, no doubt about it,” Cuomo said. “But a lot has been bottled up for so long. In a way, I feel like the state has been liberated by the Senate Democratic caucus.”
Watch the State of the State Address from Gov. Cuomo
Watch the ‘State of the State’ Rebuttal from Marc Molinaro
Local Legislators Respond
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua)
“Rather than provide a detailed state spending plan for 2019, Gov. Cuomo rolled out another campaign platform. It is nearly impossible to determine where his political agenda stops and where New York State’s fiscal policy starts.
There was almost no focus on everyday New Yorkers – the single-income family struggling to put food on the table, the small business owner trying to meet their bottom line, the retired couple wondering if they can afford to stay in their home, or the recent college graduate looking for a second job so they can make their next student loan payment.
We heard no real solutions to persistent problems and even less accountability from the governor. He seems to believe ongoing issues like sky-high property taxes, crumbling infrastructure, worst-in-the-nation outmigration, a failing subway system and overburdened small businesses should not have been addressed over the last eight years.
As we begin developing and finalizing the state’s fiscal plan for the coming year, I hope measures that were not mentioned today are included to:
- protect our most vulnerable New Yorkers by ensuring direct-care workers receive a living wage;
- lower property taxes for all New Yorkers;
- overhaul the state’s failing economic development programs and promote job creation;
- reduce state costs on localities – unfunded mandates that drive up taxes and drive residents to other states; and
- achieve parity in the infrastructure funding provided to upstate and downstate.
The overwhelming majority of issues facing New York were present long before the Trump administration arrived at the White House. Pointing fingers at Washington D.C. was a successful narrative during campaign season and provides a convenient narrative at a rally, but it doesn’t acknowledge or fix the root problems New York has faced for years.
Until Gov. Cuomo realizes he can’t control what’s happening in the nation’s capital, our state’s longstanding issues will persist. We can, and must, do better for the people of this state.”
Sen. Pam Helming (R-Canandaigua)
“Today the Governor presented his $178 billion spending plan. The presentation included a lot of fluff and grandstanding. It was short on substance. The greatest disappointment was the Governor’s failure to provide any detail on how we are going to solve the greatest problem facing our state—the exodus of people and businesses.
People are leaving our state in droves. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly a million people moved on to greener pastures between 2011 and 2016. This is more than any other state.
If we are going to end this exodus, the Governor and legislature must be laser focused on cutting taxes and supporting small businesses.
The Governor missed an opportunity today to be the leader that ends partisan politics and focuses on reducing taxes and the burdens that hinder the growth of our small businesses and agriculture. Instead, the Governor elected to use the State of the State to finger point and blame Washington and Republicans,” said Senator Pam Helming.”