As one of the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit over school funding that resulted in the creation of a new funding formula in 2006, state Sen. Robert Jackson celebrated a major victory this week with a commitment in the state budget to fully fund the “Foundation Aid” formula over the next three years. They say the wheels of justice turn slowly, but three decades is a hell of a long wait.
This week’s biggest Winners & Losers
This week’s biggest Winners & Losers
Recreational marijuana is happening. Public schools are getting record funding. The state is gonna spend on social services like never before. Funny how a certain someone was pushing these ideas a few years back, and now some man is taking credit for them. But as a famous thespian once said: “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” So beam us to Planet Albany to see who is really winning in the state budget.
This year’s budget was always bound to be a little different with the “three men in a room” dynamic flipped around to “three men in a Zoom.” But what really shook things up was a rare, weakened Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Though Heastie and Stewart-Cousins definitely dealt with infighting in their respective conferences along the way, they eventually delivered on their favored big ticket progressive efforts like raising taxes on the wealthy and overruled Cuomo on some of his favored provisions. The legislative leaders showed Albany and Cuomo who’s boss, though that alone couldn't stop lawmakers from blowing past the budget deadline.
Joe Addabbo and Gary Pretlow may not have gotten their exact vision for mobile sports betting into the budget – but it's at least finally passed! Ever since the Supreme Court opened up the possibility to states in 2018, the issue has been on top of the agenda for the two lawmakers. There’s still plenty of issues to tackle until then. The Oneida Indian Nation still has outstanding problems with the legislation. Casino operators aren’t thrilled about the bidding process. But Addabbo is betting that New Yorkers will be able to hop on their phones and make their bets by the time the Super Bowl rolls around. Let’s see if the odds are in their favor.
It fell short of the $3.5 billion they were asking for, but state Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa still managed to secure $2.1 billion for unemployed undocumented workers ineligible for federal aid and unemployment during the pandemic. It caused some internal turmoil among Democrats and opposition among Republicans, but they got it done. And while some remained dissatisfied with eligibility requirements, advocates still celebrated the creation of the fund, one of the only – and certainly the largest – of its kind in the nation.
For the most powerful man in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in a uniquely difficult negotiating spot this budget season as he faces an impeachment probe and continued calls to resign over allegations of sexual harassment and his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes. It’s not all that surprising, then, that Cuomo failed to dissuade lawmakers from raising taxes on the wealthy or that lawmakers secured full funding for Foundation Aid. Proving that he’s operating with weak ammunition, Cuomo couldn’t even win support for a proposal that would lower the age requirement for hunting bears with crossbows.
The plan to redevelop the area around Penn Station hasn’t been stopped in its tracks, but let’s say it’s experiencing some delays. Cuomo’s plan to get $1.3 billion for his controversial Empire State Complex project didn’t go quite as planned – he got the money, but it’s limited to transit improvements and can’t be used for “above-grade” construction. That means the governor can’t use those funds towards building skyscrapers, a development project his donor Stephen Roth would lead. It probably won’t stop centerpiece “PENN 15” from getting… erected, but getting off the ground may now take a little more effort.
Legislators didn’t eat the rich, but they took a big bite outta their incomes in the new budget. And members of the business group Partnership for New York City probably aren’t too happy. President and CEO Kathryn Wylde lobbied pretty hard against new taxes on the wealthy, but it seems her pleas fell on largely deaf ears. The state budget includes $4.3 billion in new taxes, including greater income taxes for high-earners. She warned that if they’re forced to pay more, businesses and wealthy New Yorkers will flee the state. Guess we’ll have to wait and see if Wylde should change her name to Cassandra.
The Albany Democrat better head to Taco Bell to drown her budgetary sorrows with some bitter ale and Netflix. Her colleagues have once again rejected the idea of legalizing brewskies in movie theaters. It’s the type of legislative sequel that reveals how New York City can’t compete with those Amsterdam and Paris cinemas. They famously don’t use “no paper cup.” We’re talking real steins.