Press-Republican

Albany Round-up

April 1, 2014

NY Legislature passes $140 billion budget

(Continued)

ALBANY —

While de Blasio touted his achievements, lawmakers outside of New York City criticized the agreement saying that the $40 million allotted for the remainder of the state to implement full-day pre-kindergarten is inequitable.

Both houses spent hours debating public financing for political campaigns. The budget includes testing public campaign finance with the state comptroller race this year. Good government groups and some lawmakers say that the pilot program is flawed and doesn't go far enough. The groups have criticized the influence of big contributors in state politics and are seeking public financing for all statewide and legislative races.

The Legislature also approved an estimated $1.5 billion in homeowner tax relief tied to local governments staying within a 2 percent tax cap the first year and enacting cost-saving plans the second year, benchmarks for Cuomo, who called his property tax relief "the single most transformative part" of the budget. The plan would also cut manufacturers' tax rate to zero.

The tax cuts fortify Cuomo's right flank in an election year when Republican hopeful Rob Astorino has been claiming New York's tax climate is discouraging business. But the budget has left some progressive groups unhappy.

As it was being debated Monday, activists clogged the Capitol's hallways to protest the lack of favored measures including opening up state financial aid to students in the country illegally, the public campaign financing effort and more funding for charter schools. Some wanted provisions to increase or accelerate the minimum wage and criticized tax cuts that will benefit wealthy New Yorkers.

Under the budget, the bank tax would end, subjecting banks instead to the corporate tax, whose rate would drop from 7.1 to 6.5 percent in 2016. New York's big investment banks would pay state taxes on securities trading based on 8 percent of net profits.

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Albany Round-up