- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The fate of proposals to impose new congestion tolls in Manhattan, levy a tax on opioid manufacturers and reform New York’s bail system could be decided by week’s end as lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo work to strike a state budget deal.

Sunday marks the start of the state’s new fiscal year and the deadline by which lawmakers and the governor are expected to pass a new budget. The spending plan, expected to total around $170 billion, likely will include several policy issues that have little to do with state finances.

Here’s a look at where several high-profile proposals stand Tuesday as closed-door negotiations continue:

NYC TOLLS: A proposal to impose tolls of $11 or more on motorists driving into the heart of Manhattan appears to be failing, though a more modest plan for smaller surcharges on taxis and Uber rides is gaining momentum. Under the proposal, surcharges of $2.50 would be levied on cab rides south of 96th Street. Trips with Uber, Lyft or other ride-hailing services in the same zone would be assessed a $2.75 surcharge. Supporters see the surcharges as just the first phase of a plan to roll out new congestion tolls on private vehicles in future years.

OPIOID TAX: Cuomo’s call for a 2-cent-per-milligram tax on opioid manufacturers is running into opposition among Republican lawmakers. They say they worry the tax will be passed on to consumers, or that it won’t be dedicated to efforts to combat addiction as Cuomo has said.

“If we were putting that money that it was generating into new services, if we were helping people that so desperately need it in this state, then I would keep an open mind about it,” said Sen. Fred Akshar, R-Binghamton.

The tax, which would raise an estimated $127 million annually, is part of $1 billion in new fees and taxes proposed by Cuomo.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT: The Senate, Assembly and Cuomo have all advanced plans to create a uniform sexual harassment policy for state workers and officials. The legislation emerged following national attention on sexual misconduct in the workplace, and some form of new policy is expected to pass.

“I would like to see a strong statement, definition and policy,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.

EARLY VOTING: Cuomo and Democrats want New York to join the majority of states in allowing early voting but Republicans question whether local election officials can afford the change.

CHILD VICTIMS ACT: The Assembly and Cuomo are pushing to extend the statute of limitations for child molestation and create a one-year window for victims to sue their alleged abusers even if the statute of limitations has already expired. The Catholic Church leads the opposition to the litigation window. Senate Republicans have long blocked the measure from getting a vote, a likely outcome again this year.

BAIL REFORM: Cuomo had proposed eliminating cash bail in misdemeanors and non-violent cases. Republicans are wary, and the measure looks unlikely to pass in the budget.

TAX CHANGES: One big question in the budget is whether lawmakers will support Cuomo’s ideas for easing the burden of the new federal tax code, which raises tax liabilities for many New Yorkers by capping a deduction for state and local taxes. Cuomo wants to offer tax credits to individuals who make charitable contributions to public education or health care programs. He’s also proposed allowing companies to pay a payroll tax in lieu of their employee’s income taxes. Salaries would be adjusted accordingly.

LAST MINUTE ADDITIONS: The owners of Del Lago casino in the Finger Lakes are seeking state help after revenues from its first year of operation came in under projections. Democrats want to include some gun control measures, while Republicans are suggesting more funds for school security instead.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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