ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has moved up the timetable for presenting his state budget plans and will now unveil the more than $170 billion spending document Tuesday at a state convention hall near the Capitol.
The plan, to be dissected by lawmakers and stakeholders over the next two months, will cover spending and taxing by the state for the fiscal year starting April 1.
The governor, whose office told lawmakers the budget would be coming out the last week in January, has already laid out the broad brushes of many items he will include in the proposal, including making the state’s property tax cap program permanent in law and legalizing recreational marijuana and taxing the drug to bring the state new revenues.
The governor will also fill up the budget with considerable nonfiscal policy items. New York governors hold considerable powers over the budget process and Cuomo is not alone in trying to link budget plans with various social policies that some lawmakers would not otherwise approve if the items were put into their own separate bills.
But with a new, all Democratic-controlled Legislature, Cuomo is going to face an easier task with some items, such as new gun control measures – which will include extending the existing waiting period for obtaining a gun – and the Dream Act, which will give state tuition assistance to children of undocumented immigrants.
Tougher tasks will come in the area of public education; Cuomo has suggested he wants to scrap the current formula by which public schools are funded by the state.
Cuomo has also floated some sort of middle-class tax break, though it is uncertain if the plan will be new or just a continuation of an existing tax cut program that is running in phases over the years.
A major source of contention will involve the decaying New York City subway system, which Cuomo will seek to drive more money to via a new congestion pricing plan slapping surcharges on drivers into Manhattan. At the same time, other lawmakers will want some sort of equitable plan to fund road and bridge construction upstate and on Long Island.
Other nonfiscal items will stretch from criminal justice law changes, including an end to the cash bail system that critics say unfairly hits low-income criminal defendants, to measures intended to address climate change and federal attempts to undo the Affordable Care Act.
The governor will combine the unveiling of his budget plan with his annual State of the State message into one speech Tuesday afternoon.