$175 billion budget includes legal marijuana, sports gambling and NYC congestion pricing as revenue generators
Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a progressive program for the legislative session and the coming fiscal year before a standing room only audience in Albany on Tuesday.
Public financing of statewide elections, eliminating one-time-use plastic bags, passing the Child Victims Act and confiscating guns from persons deemed a threat to themselves or others are some of the more ambitious proposals unveiled Tuesday.
The governor’s agenda also includes legalizing — and taxing — recreational marijuana use for adults, regulating sports betting in New York’s casinos, and new tolls for driving in lower Manhattan as revenue generators.
“What we’re going to get done this legislative session will make history in New York State and the nation,” the governor said to an enthusiastic audience of lawmakers, reporters and special guests packed into the 1,000-seat Hart Theater at the Egg, just across the street from the state Capitol.
The $175.2 billion Executive Budget for 2019-2020 includes $102 billion in state operating funds, a 1.9 percent increase over the current year.
Health and education spending are both growing by 3.6 percent and spending in the executive agencies is growing by 0.8 percent.
Cuomo is proposing a number of new laws meant to counter the objectives of the Trump Administration. For example, while Trump has made illegal immigration the centerpiece of his first term, Cuomo is urging the Legislature to pass the Dream Act which would provide financial aid to the children of undocumented immigrants who want to go to college.
While Trump and other Republicans are trying to dismantle Obamacare, Cuomo wants to save health exchanges in New York and require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions if they want to continue doing business in New York.
And while conservatives are hoping for a reversal of Roe v. Wade, Cuomo wants to write abortion protections into the state Constitution and recodify the current state laws to give more legal protections to abortion providers.
“We have a moment in time. We can do it. It’s just us,” Cuomo said, referring to the fully Democratic Legislature. New Yorkers elected a Democratic Senate for the first time in decades, giving progressives the first opportunity in recent history to pass a host of bills that previously languished in the Republican-controlled Senate. “A lot [of these bills] has been bottled up for many, many years, but we are now liberated [because of] a Senate Democratic majority.”
The governor’s agenda also includes $150 billion in new spending on infrastructure projects across the state, $2.5 billion for clean water programs, and a Green New Deal” that has a goal of 100 percent renewable energy in New York by 2040.
“This is going to be the most productive first 100 days in state history,” Cuomo said. “In the past, good ideas went to the state Senate to die. Now, good ideas will go to the Senate to be born.”
Watch the full State of the State and Budget proposal here: