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Lawmakers work late to finalize spending plan

Apr 02, 2020 7:15 am
Karen DeWitt is reporting for WXXI-AM News state lawmakers hoped to finish the budget overnight, one day after the April 1 deadline, after reaching a conceptual agreement with Governor Andrew Cuomo. Under the agreement the governor would be given broad new powers to adjust spending throughout the year as the state continues to cope with the fallout from the coronavirus emergency. Cuomo and his budget officials have said the state’s deficit could be as high as $15 billion dollars, and they may have to make cuts mid-year to schools, health care providers and local governments. But Cuomo says if the economy rebounds and there is more revenue coming in, they might be able to increase aid. Money to schools will remain flat, and will match the same amount given to each district last year. Schools will receive some money from the federal bailout plan. Advocates had pressed for increasing taxes on the wealthy, but the final spending plan does not include any new taxes on the rich. The plan includes a $3 billion dollar environmental bond act that will go before voters in November. Also, single use Styrofoam take out containers from restaurants and fast food outlets will be banned, beginning in 2022. Lawmakers were on track to approve a partial roll back of the state’s bail reform laws and bail reform advocates held a last minute news conference via Zoom to condemn a proposal that would make it easier for judges to order people held before trial. The legislature also agreed to create a new crime of domestic terrorism, in response to the mass stabbing last December at a Hanukah celebration in Rockland County. And, lawmakers  enacted a controversial publicly finance system for political campaigns that weakens the ability of third parties to become eligible for the ballot. Read the full story at WXXINews [dot] org.