Cuomo announces deal on $140 billion state budget
Weeks of compromises and concessions are mostly at an end with Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing a budget agreement that, if approved, settles the ongoing commotion over universal pre-kindergarten while short changing the city’s traffic safety requests.
The nearly $140 billion budget includes the five-year commitment to statewide universal prekindergarten that Cuomo promised as an alternative to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s request for a citywide tax on the five borough’s wealthiest.
Instead, the New York City’s prekindergarten and middle school aftershool programs are slated to receive $300 million from the state budget — without the tax. It’s also less than de Blasio’s original $340 million request, but de Blasio nonetheless praised the news.
“Through ups and downs, we never wavered from our promise to the people of this city to expand full-day pre-K and afterschool for our children starting this September,” de Blasio said in a statement on Saturday. “Today that pledge became a reality.”
De Blasio also praised the budget’s adoption of language that allows the city to offer rent subsidies to homeless families as well as a rent cap for New Yorkers diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.
The budget did not, however, include a provision for 160 new speed cameras outlined in the city’s plan to reduce pedestrian-related deaths to zero.
The budget also follows through on Cuomo’s plan to divert devoted tax money from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to pay off debt for the transit agency. In total, the state will transfer $30 million, which critics say passes the buck to transit riders.
A coalition of transportation advocates accused Albany on Saturday of sending a message “that the state can — and will — use the MTA as a piggy bank, siphoning dollars out of the pockets of transit riders.”
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria