New York’s 2020 budget is in the bag!
Lawmakers approved a $175 billion budget on Sunday that reforms the state’s cash-bail system, taxes drivers to raise big bucks for the city’s decaying subway system, and earns New York second place in the race to outlaw single-use plastic bags.
The Empire state’s bag ban — which follows California’s plastic-bag prohibition as the second in the country — was among the big-ticket items included in the budget package, and allows cities to opt of an additional five-cent tax on paper bags.
City legislators approved a law introduced by Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander to charge shoppers a nickle for plastic bags in 2016 — a fee that businesses were entitled to keep, and would have amounted to a $100 million annual giveaway.
But the then Republican-ruled state Senate introduced a bill to kill the municipal fee in early 2017, and Cuomo — who described the law as “deeply flawed” and vowed to create a state-wide taskforce to address the scourge of plastic bags — signed it into law a day before the so-called “plastic-bag tax” was set to kick in.
The 2020 Budget also makes New York the first state to institute a congestion pricing program, which will tax drivers heading into Manhattan anywhere south of 60th Street beginning Dec. 31, 2020, and is expected to generate $1 billion annually to the MTA, which the agency could use to secure bonds for up to $15 billion, according to AM New York.
Congestion pricing is only one of three new revenue sources for the Transit Authority, which will net $365 million annually from a mansion tax on the sale of properties over $25 million, and $320 million per year through a new tax on purchases made online.
Legislators voted through a justice reform package that will eliminate cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent crimes, ensuring 90-percent of defendants await trial outside of a jail cell.
The state’s reform package follows policies enacted by District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in 2017, which sees nearly all Brooklyn defendants facing misdemeanor charges be released without bail — with exceptions usually involving sex crimes and allegations of domestic violence — and has resulted in the number of monthly Kings County admissions to Rikers Island being reduced by 58 percent since the borough-wide policy took effect, according to spokesman Oren Yaniv.
The budget additionally makes a temporary 2 percent property tax cap enacted in 2012 permanent, enhances school funding by 3.8 percent, and state health funding 3.6 percent over last year.