New York budget: Senate approves raise the age, path to free college tuition, more

The State Senate passed a $153.1 billion budget on Sunday night.

The New York State Senate passed a $153.1 billion budget on Sunday night, nine days after the fiscal year began.

Debates between lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over key issues led to the longest budget delay since the Democrat took office in 2011.

Those key issues included raising the age of criminal responsibility and free tuition for students of middle-income families. Here’s a look at those issues and more that are included in this year’s budget. 

Raise the age

People under the age of 18, and accused of nonviolent crimes, will no longer be housed in adult jails and prisons. The measure, which will be phased in through October 2019, will leave North Carolina as the only state to automatically prosecute and imprison 16- and 17-year-olds as adults regardless of the crime.

Path to free college tuition 

State residents with household incomes under $100,000 will be able to enroll in state public colleges tuition-free. The income limit rises to $125,000 in three years.

The program, called the Excelsior Scholarship, will extend the state’s existing aid to fully cover the cost of tuition to SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges.

New Yorkers who receive the Excelsior Scholarship will be required to live and work in New York for the same number of years they are given the aid. 

Ride-hailing services to operate beyond NYC

Uber, Lyft other ride-hailing companies can operate in all of New York State. Sen. Timothy Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat, said upstate New York can now join the 21st century.

Tax break for NYC real estate developers

The budget revives a program that gives tax cuts to developers who set aside a certain number of affordable units in new buildings.

Developers of new buildings with 300 units or more in parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens are eligible for a full property tax abatement for 35 years if the development meets a certain number of affordable units. Abatements for developers of smaller buildings would be based on how many affordable units are present.

Tax rates reduced for middle class

The budget will begin to lower the tax rates for middle-class New Yorkers. Once it’s fully phased in, the rate for taxpayers in the $40,000 to $150,000 income bracket will drop from 6.85 percent to 5.5 percent and the rate for taxpayers in the $150,000 to $300,000 income bracket will drop from 6.45 percent to 6 percent, Cuomo said.

Millionaire’s tax extended

The Millionaire’s tax, which is an 8.82 percent tax rate on individuals making more than $1 million a year, was extended for two more years.

Water infrastructure

The plan funds $2.5 billion in clean water infrastructure projects, including fixing aging septic systems and replacing pipes.

Opioid epidemic

The budget invests over $200 million for prevention, treatment and recovery programs to address the opioid epidemic in New York. 

With Reuters and Newsday

Nicole Brown