| ALBANY, April 9
ALBANY, April 9 Travelers across New York state
will get the chance to summon ride-sharing cars under a $163
billion state budget passed on Sunday that includes a free
public college tuition program and ends imprisoning people
younger than 18 with adults.
The passage completed a deal struck between lawmakers and
Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, on Friday, nine days after
the fiscal year began.
Key components – raising the age of criminal responsibility
and free tuition for students from families earning less than
$120,000 a year – were pushed by Cuomo and led to the longest
budget delay since the Democrat took office in 2011.
To be phased in through October 2019, people under the age
of 18 will no longer be housed in adult jails and prisons.
The measure, strongly embraced by Assembly Democrats, will
leave North Carolina as the only state to automatically
prosecute and imprison 16 and 17-year-olds as adults regardless
of the crime.
Cuomo, considered a possible 2020 presidential contender,
said in a radio interview that raising the age - along with
increasing the state's minimum wage last year and legalizing
same-sex marriages in 2011 - are "really great lasting
Republican lawmakers complained Cuomo incorporated social
policy into the budget, but ultimately compromised.
"There's a lot of things you like, a lot things you don't
like," Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, a
Republican, said from the Senate floor.
State residents with household incomes under $100,000 will
be able to enroll in state public colleges tuition-free. The
income limit rises to $125,000 in three years.
The budget revives a tax cut program for New York City
affordable housing developers and funds $2.5 billion of clean
water infrastructure projects.
The spending plan won overwhelmingly support in the Assembly
Legislators hailed the provision to permit Uber, Lyft and
similar ride-hailing services to operate beyond New York City.
Sen. Timothy Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat, said upstate New
York can now join the 21st Century.
The $163 billion package also includes federal disaster aid
for people impacted by 2012's Superstorm Sandy hurricane and
funds for health care reform.
The pact gives Cuomo's budget director authority to plan
spending cuts if the federal government slashes more than $850
million of funding to New York this fiscal year.
Cuomo called New York "a target for hostile federal actions"
under Republican President Donald Trump and the Republican-led
Congress, which could cut billions of Medicaid dollars to New
York and other states by replacing the Affordable Care Act.
To help offset the state's $3.5 billion deficit and fund
income tax cuts for people making under $300,000, the budget
extends for two years an 8.82 percent tax rate on individuals
making more than $1 million a year.
Cuomo failed in his quest to compel giant online
marketplaces such as Amazon to collect taxes on third-party
(Reporting By James Odato in Albany; Editing by Daniel Bases
and Eric Meijer)