ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Here’s a look at key items in New York’s new $153 billion state budget, approved Sunday night:
FREE COLLEGE TUITION
New York students from families making $125,000 or less will be eligible for free college tuition under Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship Program. The initiative won’t cover room and board and students will have to meet residency, grade point and class load rules to participate. The program will be phased in over three years and also sets aside $19 million for tuition aid for students attending private colleges.
RAISE THE AGE
Juveniles who are 16 and 17 years old will no longer be prosecuted in adult court or be incarcerated in adult prisons or jails. The agreement will raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 17 in October 2018 and to 18 a year later. The deal directs misdemeanors to family court and creates a special youth court for felonies. Non-violent offenders could apply to have their criminal records sealed after a 10-year waiting period. The only other state to automatically try 16 and 17 year olds in adult court is North Carolina
Beginning 90 days after the budget is enacted ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft will be authorized to operate in upstate cities like Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany. Previously the services had been limited to the New York City area, making upstate one of the largest areas in the country without the modern convenience.
CHILD CARE TAX CREDIT
More than 200,000 families earning between $60,000 and $150,000 will be eligible for an expanded child care tax credit. The benefit for the average household will increase from $169 to $376.
The budget increases total spending on public education by $1.1 billion to $25.8 billion overall.
The state will spend more than $200 million for prevention, treatment and recovery programs targeted toward heroin and opioid addiction.
FARM TO FOODBANK
The budget includes a tax credit for farmers who donate fruits, vegetables and other farm products to local food banks. Anti-hunger advocates and agriculture groups say it ensures hungry New Yorkers have access to healthy food while encouraging farmers to harvest crops that otherwise might go to waste.
LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR IMMIGRANTS
New York residents facing deportation can receive legal representation bolstered by a new $10 million fund that would ensure public defense for immigrants regardless of their legal status.
EMPIRE STATE TRAIL
The 750-mile trail will connect two greenway trails crisscrossing the state from Manhattan to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo that Cuomo says could be a national tourist attraction.
WHAT WAS LEFT OUT
Ethics reform and changes to election laws including easier voter registration and early voting didn’t make the cut. The extension of mayoral control of schools in New York City also isn’t in the budget; lawmakers expect to take up that issue later this year.
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