June 24, 2019

State budget talks continue as Sunday deadline looms

31 March 2019, 10:12 | Edward Lowe

Getty Images Vanni Bassetti

Getty Images  Vanni Bassetti

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders have reached a deal on a $175.5 billion state budget.

"For far too long plastic bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways and that's why I proposed a ban in this year's budget".

New York's ban wouldn't take effect until next March.

While the proposal didn't include a ban on paper bags, it would allow local governments to impose a 5-cent fee on paper bags. They are banned in much of Hawaii, since that state's most populous counties now prohibit their use. "While the best policy would be a ban on plastic bags coupled with a statewide fee on other disposable bags, this agreement represents a tremendous step forward".

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The budget agreement also establishes a state commission that will come up with a system for public financing of legislative and statewide offices, with up to $100 million in taxpayer funds authorized annually for such a system.

Plastic bags are getting canceled.

Nonetheless, Patrick McClellan, state policy director for the New York League of Conservation Voters, said his group was "thrilled" that the bag ban appears headed for passage.

The Senate and Assembly are scheduled to be back in Albany Sunday morning for what's expected to be an all-day session of passing legislation that makes up Cuomo's spending plan for the 2019-2020 state fiscal year that starts Monday. Cuomo announced last month he wanted to close three prisons because of the state's declining inmate population.

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Now that the property tax cap has been renewed through the budget, supporters of rent regulations, particularly New York City lawmakers, have less leverage over their suburban and upstate colleagues to support increased tenant protections.

In addition to eliminating cash bail for some charges, other criminal justice reforms include requiring prosecutors and defense lawyers to share all case information well in advance of trials, and speeding up the time it takes for a case to go to trial.

Like in the budget season, some issues will make the cut and others could fall by the wayside when lawmakers adjourn for the year in mid-June. Cuomo said Friday that lawmakers need more time to work out the details to regulation.

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