NY State budget

AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Lawmakers approve $175.5B budget, including congestion pricing, plastic bag ban

April 01, 2019 - 6:07 am
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ALBANY (AP) -- New York lawmakers have wrapped up approving a $175.5 billion state budget that includes a statewide ban on plastic bags and new tolls for driving into the busiest sections of Manhattan.

Lawmakers began debating budget legislation Sunday afternoon, and the Democrat-controlled Senate finished passing budget bills around 2:30 a.m. Monday, followed about five hours later by the Assembly, also controlled by Democrats.

The budget now must be approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has called the budget "probably the strongest progressive statement that we've made."

RELATED: Drivers react to congestion pricing: 'It's too hard to live now' |  So long plastic bags? Ban gains traction in NY budget talks | ‘Doesn’t seem fair’: Congestion pricing for for-hire vehicles kicks in | Cuomo, de Blasio unveil MTA funding proposal that includes congestion pricing

Here are some of the major takeaways from the budget and how they'll affect you:

Congestion Pricing: Starting in 2021, vehicles traveling south of 61st Street in Manhattan will be charged a toll through electronic devices placed around the borough. The MTA will create a review board tasked with determining toll amounts depending on the time of day, along with exemptions. Funds will be dedicated solely for upgrading the city's transit system, along with revenues from a new transfer tax on Manhattan homes that sell for more than $25 million and a tax on internet retail sales.

Plastic Bag Ban: As of March 1, 2020 the ban prohibits most single-use plastic bags provided by supermarkets and other retailers. Gives counties and cities the option to charge 5 cents for paper bags.

Property Tax Cap: A 2 percent cap on local property taxes will now be permanent. It was implemented in 2012 and had been scheduled to expire in June.

Limo Regulations: A limo crash killed 20 people near Albany in October. There will now be increased penalties for operating a limo without proper state authorization. The state can also revoke registration for limos that don't meet federal safety standards. 

Voting: Allows three hours of paid time off for New Yorkers to vote on Election Day and expand voting hours upstate in primary elections to begin at 6 a.m. instead of noon to match general election hours.

Water Infrastructure: Provides another $500 million in clean water infrastructure, in addition to the state’s $2.5 billion investment.

Criminal Justice Reforms: Calls for closing up to three yet-to-be-determined state prisons and eliminating cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felony arrests.

*Marijuana: A major issue the spending plan didn't include was the legalization of recreational marijuana. Cuomo and legislative leaders say the issue was too complex to rush into the budget. Instead, it may be handled in separate legislation worked out over the last three months of the legislative session, scheduled to end June 19.

That's not all that's in the budget. Here are more key items that will impact New Yorkers.

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