New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled his annual state budget proposal that includes an aggressive liberal agenda.
At the annual traditional State of the State speech on Tuesday, Jan. 15, Cuomo released his $178 billion spending plan that includes progressive voter reform, legal marijuana and safety reform for limousines. He also proposed making the state’s 2 percent property-tax cap permanent.
Cuomo has called the budget his “most aggressive” during his three terms in office, spanning eight years. He and the Democrat-controlled New York Legislature have vowed to get long-awaited legislation that has been stalled in the past approved during his first 100 days in office before the fiscal year begins on April 1.
The governor said that if New York were to legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21, it may lead to an influx of approximately $300 million in tax revenue each year. Cuomo has proposed a 20 percent tax on retail sales if the drug was to be legalized. If approved, New York would become the 11th state in the country to make it legal.
The proposed ban on reconfigured limos comes following a fatal crash in October that left 20 dead. The limo company has since been prosecuted, with attorneys claiming criminally negligent homicide. The crash remains under investigation.
"This crash was a horrific tragedy that shocked this state to its very core," Cuomo said."We are advancing reforms that will give aggressive new powers that will allow authorities to take dangerous vehicles off the roads without delay, hold unscrupulous businesses accountable and increase public safety in every corner of New York."
Additionally, a new toll has been proposed for motorists traveling into the busiest parts of New York City. The funds from that toll are expected to fund subway improvements in the coming years.
Cuomo has also proposed eliminating single-use plastic bags statewide. According to Cuomo, New Yorkers use billions of plastic bags annually, which do not biodegrade, creating massive amounts of litter in neighborhoods and waterways and posing a threat to the health of New Yorkers and the environment. The ban would reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag production and disposal, if approved.
If the budget is approved, Cuomo has also proposed nearly $10 billion of a Green Future Fund to pay for upgrading and modernizing wastewater treatment, protecting drinking water at its source, and promoting public access to waterways. The $2.5 billion new investment in clean water Cuomo proposed would double the historic commitment to clean water the state made in 2017. We see how critical these investments are in the water samples community scientists collect at more than 400 locations in the Hudson River watershed.
“We are excited to see Governor Cuomo “go big” on clean water in his proposed budget,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “At a time when President Trump is putting our environment at risk, New York has a chance to step up.”
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