State lawmakers last week finalized the $168 billion fiscal Year 2019 state budget.
The deal involved key leaders in Albany, including Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York), Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County), and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx). The Governor called this the “most difficult budget that I think we have done.”
“We started with a big deficit,” Cuomo said. “We’re under attack by the federal government. To get it done early was a herculean task.”
The budget includes a $1 billion increase for education aid that totals $26.7 billion for the upcoming school year, surcharges on Uber and Lyft rides, an updated sexual harassment policy, and ending cash bail for many defendants.
Queens lawmakers viewed both positives and negatives associated with the budget. State Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, and Murray Hill), for example, explained there were wins such as more MTA funding yet added that more must be done to restore trust with the public.
“Enacting top-down ethics reform, increased oversight, and greater transparency are some of the many steps we can take to rebuild that trust. With the budget passed, I am confident that Governor Cuomo will focus on passing these reforms in all areas of government, including his own office,” he said.
State Assemblymember Brian Barnwell (D-Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Maspeth) felt glad about a budget that “secured critical support” for social safety net programs such as Medicaid.
“Importantly, we also enacted tax reform changes to help offset possible problems for New Yorkers who will be impacted by the new federal tax reform bill. The budget also has protections for those middle-class families who are in Unions. Overall, while we didn’t get everything we could have hoped for, this budget helps seniors, working and middle-class families,” he said.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) explained that there were positives with the budget, including expanded education aid. Furthermore, he lauded efforts to increase funding for NYCHA improvements, legal services for immigrants, and modernizing the MTA’s signal system.
“There is a great deal of good accomplishments in the budget, however, I will continue to push to bring more resources and fight for other issues left off the table, like the DREAM Act, Roe v. Wade, the Child Victims Act, among others,” he said.