* You’ve probably heard about this already…
New York will be the first state to make tuition at public colleges and universities free for middle-class students under a state budget approved by lawmakers Sunday.
The plan crafted by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will apply to any New York student whose family has an annual income of $125,000 or less. To qualify the student would have to meet certain class load and grade point average restrictions, and room and board would not be covered.
“College is today what high school was 50 years ago,” Cuomo said on a radio interview Sunday on AM 970 in New York City. “If you’re a young person who wants success and a career, a college education is necessary.
The initiative is included in a $153 billion state budget proposal that passed the state Senate late Sunday after being endorsed by the Assembly a day earlier. The budget was due by April 1, but difficult negotiations delayed passage.
Students have to remain in New York for as many years as they received the benefit. If not, they have to pay it back as a loan.
* But that’s not all the governor and the NY legislature agreed to do as part of its budget deal…
The state now will have a cap of two and a half years on temporary [workers’ compensation] benefits, which a worker can receive prior to the start of a 10-year cap on benefits for “permanent partial disabilities” — such as a chronic back condition — that affect a worker’s earning potential. […]
Another worker-centered reform lowers the degree to which a person’s injury lowers his or her earning potential — 75 percent, down from 80 percent — in order to apply for “extreme hardship” toward the end of the 10-year period and receive disability payments in perpetuity. […]
The state’s business community and its Republican allies in the state Senate stressed the need for additional reforms for years — particularly in the wake of last year’s passage of a minimum-wage increase and paid family leave — in hopes of relieving businesses of ever-increasing insurance premiums.
It became an issue that a number of GOP senators, including Majority Leader John Flanagan and Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, frequently asserted as a priority of theirs in budget negotiations. The movement for reform managed to generate enough support among Assembly Democrats to stay in the final budget agreement.
Organized labor praised the legislation backed by the GOP. More on those reforms here.
* And then there was this…
After years of efforts, ride-sharing advocates are celebrating in New York this week. The latest state budget deal paves the way for companies like Uber and Lyft to operate upstate.
* And this…
A new provision in Gov. Cuomo’s budget will make it easier for union members to deduct their dues payments from state taxes.
The clause in the Empire State’s $153 billion budget — which was approved Sunday night — will put an estimated $35 million into the pockets of union workers in the public and private sectors as well as in the building trades.
* And this…
To help offset the state’s $3.5 billion deficit and fund income tax cuts for people making under $300,000, the budget extends for two years an 8.82 percent tax rate on individuals making more than $1 million a year.
Remember, they have a Republican Senate there.
The 2017-18 State Budget fully funds another installment of property tax rebate checks, providing millions of homeowners with $453 million in direct, much-needed tax relief through a check in the mail. When combined with the STAR and Enhanced STAR programs, these checks will bring total property tax relief in this year’s budget to $3.6 billion.
After the Senate advocated for funding that was absent from the Executive Budget proposal, the final budget provides a $146 million multi-year boost in wages to compensate direct care and other clinical professionals for the important work they do in caring for our most vulnerable adults. The funding helps appropriately adjust salaries at not-for-profits that employ workers who provide services for individuals with disabilities, as well as staff at not-for-profits under the purview of the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services and the Office of Mental Health.
The enacted budget includes a record level of school aid funding of approximately $26 billion. This is an approximately $1.1 billion increase over last year, equating to 4.4 percent, and continues the growth of education funding at twice the rate of the rest of the budget.
Lots more here.
And they did all of that after just a week-long impasse.