Policy Update: FY2020 New York State Budget Brief

The New York State legislature passed the FY2020 $175.5 billion New York State budget. The budget includes language to make permanent the 2% property tax cap, a ban on single-use plastic bags, a DOT fiber deployment fee, and a repeal of the ESCO sales tax exemption. The budget does not include an expansion of prevailing wage, expansion of MWBE mandates, expansion of the “Bottle Bill,” recreational cannabis legalization, or legislation raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21. Many of the items not included are expected to be discussed prior to end of session in June. Below is a larger list of included/excluded items, as well as a list of items expected to be discussed before end of session:

What Passed

  • The $175.5 billion state budget
  • Permanent 2% property tax cap
    Property taxes decreased from an avg. of 5.3% from 2000-2010 to an avg. of 1.9% in 2018
    Taxpayers have saved $24.4 billion statewide - $2 billion in the Finger Lakes region
  • Plastic bag ban
    To begin March 1, 2020
    Exempt bags include those used: to contain/wrap uncooked meat, fish, or poultry; for bulk items like fruits, vegetables, grains, or candy; to contain food sliced or prepared to order; for newspapers, bags sold in bulk to consumers, trash bags, food storage bags, garment bags, carry-out restaurant bags, for prescription drugs
  • Optional paper bag fee (cities/counties to decide whether to implement)
    If opt-in, 40% of revenue to locality, 60% to NYS Environmental Conservation Fund
  • Infrastructure investment ($150 billion over five years)
  • Regional Economic Development Council round nine funding ($750 million)
  • Downtown Revitalization Initiative round four funding ($100 million)
  • Workforce Development Initiative ($175 million)
    Funding to support regional expansion of talent pipelines, apprenticeships, and STEM training
  • Progressive “Mansion Tax” and real estate transfer tax (est. $365 million to fund MTA)
  • Internet sales tax (est. $160 million for localities and $320 million to fund MTA)
  • DOT fiber deployment fee (highway right-of-way fees)
  • ESCO sales tax exemption repeal
  • Additional gubernatorial power over Public Authorities Control Board
    “As the appointing authority, the governor has the full discretion to immediately remove a member of the board he or she finds to be acting, or threatening to act, beyond the scope of such member’s legal authority set forth herein”. Currently the PACB is supposed to determine only if a project has enough funding commitments
  • Congestion pricing program for New York City 60th street and below
    To begin in 2021
    80% of revenue directed to subway/buses
    10% of revenue directed to the Long Island Rail Road
    10% of revenue directed to the Metro-North Rail Road
    Rumored surcharges to be $11.50 for cars and $25 for trucks
    Potential price breaks could include day passes for people living within the congestion zone, hardship exemption for those earning less than $60,000, disability exemptions for those with handicap plates, exemptions for emergency vehicles/city-owned agency cars
  • Enactment of a campaign finance commission
    Commission charged with developing a plan for public financing
    $100 million annually allocated to public financing for legislative/statewide offices
    Commission recommendations due in December (ratio of matching funds, contribution limits)
  • 3.8% increase to k-12 education aid ($27.9 billion total)
  • $208 million increase in higher education aid ($7.7 billion total)
  • Funding for the DREAM Act ($27 million)
  • 3.6% increase to Medicaid spending ($19.6 billion total)
  • Codification into law of certain ACA provisions and NYS Health Exchange
  • Women’s issues
    Mandate coverage for in-vitro fertilization and egg-freezing
    Establish rape shield protections for survivors of sex trafficking
    Reform domestic violence shelter requirements
    Invest $26 million into child care to maintain the market rate for districts outside NYC
  • More strict limousine regulations
  • Tax credit for the film industry extended two years
  • New excise tax on opioids
  • Increased taxes on vapor (e-cigarette) products
  • Increased taxes on car rentals
  • Three-year extension of mayoral control of NYC schools
  • Criminal justice reforms
    Elimination of cash bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies
    Allowing defendants more access to evidence that prosecutors intend to use against them
    Ensuring speedy trials
  • Election reform
    Funding for early voting ($10 million)
    Allow three hours of paid time off to vote on Election Day
    Expand voting hours throughout upstate in primary elections to begin at 6:00 a.m. instead of noon
  • Legalization of electronic poll books
  • Funding for full census count ($20 million)
  • Closure of up to three prisons

What Didn’t

  • Expansion of prevailing wage
  • Recreational cannabis legalization
  • T21 legislation raising age to purchase tobacco to 21
  • Green New Deal/CCPA
  • MWBE expansion
  • Bottle bill expansion
  • Mobile/online sports betting
  • On the Job Training Fund for chambers of commerce

To Be Discussed Before End of Session

  • Expansion of prevailing wage
  • T21 legislation raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21
  • Rent regulations
  • Recreational cannabis
  • Single payer health care
  • Ethics reforms (campaign finance, limiting contributions of LLCs, sexual harassment)
  • Additional criminal justice reforms
  • Mobile/online sports betting

Rochester Chamber staff has actively engaged in advocacy at every level so as to ensure your voices were heard. As the legislative session continues, so too will the passion and tenacity with which we advocate for you and the Greater Rochester community. Please email Marc Cohen with any follow-up questions you may have.