Cuomo signs legislation for $200M to fight drug epidemic

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially signed legislation yesterday that will invest over $200 million to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic across the state.

“This is a matter of life and death,” he said after signing the legislation. “You have parents that are struggling, and providers that are struggling. What we did in this budget is that we basically doubled the state’s commitment in terms of resources.”

The funds were provided in this year’s state budget. They will be used to support prevention, treatment and recovery programs targeted toward chemical dependency, residential service opportunities, and public awareness and education activities in New York. It will also provide $6 million for Naloxone kits and training. The recommendations were made by the state’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force, which is co-chaired by Senator Fred Akshar.

Open Burn Ban in NY until May 14

After a large brush fire was reported in northern Tioga County last weekend and other areas around the state, all New Yorkers are reminded that an outdoor burn ban remains in effect until May 14. The DEC says there is moderate fire danger for most areas around the state, as warmer-than-average temperatures have melted snow and left behind dry grass and brush. State residents are reminded to fully extinguish any camp or cooking fires, and burn only charcoal or clean, untreated wood. More information about the burn ban is available on the DEC website.

NY passes state budget

New York lawmakers have agreed to a budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The $153 billion spending plan will increase education aid by $1.1 billion – a 4.4 percent increase to public school districts – up the tax rate on millionaires, begin a middle class tax cut, and provide free college tuition at SUNY schools for students of families that make less than $145,000 per year. Tuition will go up for students who don’t qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship program. In other initiatives, the budget includes comprehensive workers compensation reform, forces counties to come up with and vote on a shared services plan, and raises the criminal age of responsibility to 18 – meaning 16 and 17-year-old crime suspects will no longer be treated as adults. It also includes $200 million to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic through treatment and prevention services.

Cuomo halts budget process

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put a halt to the budget process, saying he wants the state to wait until the federal government finalizes their spending plan. Cuomo believes the federal budget will end up costing the state money, especially in terms of health care.

” I don’t want to do a budget where we have a) either overcommitted financially and then when the federal cuts come to New York, inevitable, we have overcommitted or b) where we don’t have the ability to adjust to cuts.”

In the meantime, the state government will continue operating under the budget extender passed Monday. Cuomo says they have reached agreement on many issues, but one of those issues still up for debate is education funding. To help school districts, which have to send a budget proposal for next school year to voters on May 16, Cuomo says they will be setting the overall aid increase at 3.9 percent, and the final number will be that or more for school districts.

NY lawmakers begin passing budget bills

New York lawmakers appear to have reached a deal on the framework of a final budget agreement for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The Senate began passing budget bills last night and will be back at it this morning at 10. The Assembly plans to start considering budget bills during a session that begins at noon. The more than $150 billion spending plan reportedly includes a $1 billion increase to public education spending along with more tuition assistance for state residents. It also raises the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old. More details will be released today. The fiscal year began Saturday, and the legislature approved a budget extender Monday.

NYS passes budget extender

With no agreement in place for New York, legislators passed a budget extender yesterday, which will fund all government operations through May 31. Besides keeping the state government open, it will also increase salaries for the state’s 120,000 direct care professionals, award $16.4 billion to infrastructure, economic development, and environmental projects, and invest $2.5 billion in clean water initiatives. All of those items were part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal. State Senator Fred Akshar voted in favor of the budget extender, saying that a final agreement has been held up by downstate Democrats over a single issue – the “Raise the Age” proposal. The issue on whether or not to consider suspects in crimes under the age of 18 as juveniles has split legislators along party lines. Republicans agree with the proposal, but only if the charges aren’t for violent crimes. Democrats favor a total change to the criminal justice system. Negotiations continue today.

Deadline passes with no NYS budget deal

The deadline came and went over the weekend with no budget agreement in place for New York. The 2017-2018 fiscal year began on Saturday for the state, but lawmakers could not come to a budget agreement despite working through the weekend. They will be back at it this morning. Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the legislature they had a grace period to pass the budget since the fiscal year began on a Saturday. He is expected to extend the current budget today to keep the government working until an agreement can be made. That extender would allow the state to continue functioning through May 31. One of the main issues under discussion this weekend was the “Raise the Age” proposal, with Democrats and Republicans split over the initiative to treat 16 and 17-year-old suspects in crimes as juveniles rather than adults. This is the first time in four years that New York has failed to pass an on-time budget.

Negotiations continue in Albany Friday

Negotiations continue in Albany this morning as lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo try to settle on a budget agreement before tomorrow’s deadline. Once again, legislative leaders did not provide much of an update yesterday, except to say they are still working on an agreement and representatives are being asked to prepare for a late night tonight and a long day tomorrow as they try to deliver an on-time budget for the fourth consecutive year. The fiscal year begins on April 1 in New York.