ALBANY, NY (NY Times/ WKBW ) — Lawmakers completed one of the latest budgets in New York State history Tuesday night, passing a last piece of legislation that will raise an additional $1 billion — in part by increasing taxes on the sale of clothing and on a variety of businesses.
The Governor responded Wedesday by issuing a statement posted on the New York State website:
"Today the state finalized a budget that closes a $9.2 billion budget gap. This was done primarily through spending cuts and with no borrowing. Additionally, for the first time in State history, we have taken action – through an FMAP contingency plan, which was championed by the Governor – in anticipation of a loss of federal revenue, and put spending cuts in place to fill the gap. Governor Paterson has spent the last eight months fighting for the fiscal health of New York on behalf of all New Yorkers. A fiscally responsible budget will help our State turn the corner on this economic crisis, and put us on a path to recovery."
The state will get more money from gambling operations, and the rich will see their charitable deductions reduced.
One notable measure that failed to pass was a bill that would have given the state university system far more autonomy to set its own tuition rates. The plan was being pushed by the chancellor, Nancy L. Zimpher, as a way to help turn around the ailing system.
What remains unclear is the SUNY tuition issue, and whether the state will allow schools to set their own tuition rates, something the University at Buffalo desperately needs to continue on with the 2020 expansion plans. There is some agreement on the SUNY bill, but lawmakers seem divided on whether they think it will eventually be approved.
Eyewitness News spoke with Democratic New York State Senator Antoine Thompson who noted, "We had a bill today that came up short."
Republican lawmaker Michael Ranzenhofer said this about the SUNY issue, "It's already been taken up twice today and failed...it's dead in the water."
The vote of local lawmaker Bill Stachowski was pivotal in this issue.
A vote in the State Senate took place just before 8:30 p.m., ending months of contentious negotiations, with the budget 125 days late. The Assembly had earlier approved the budget, which is projected to be $136.5 billion. Spending will increase by 2.4 percent over the previous budget.
Democrats, who control the Legislature, feared the indignity of passing the latest budget ever in an election year. The record was set in 2004, when the budget passed on Aug. 11.
Eyewitness News will continue to have the latest on the budget, and what it means to WNY.