Education, upper-class taxes and opioid treatment still being hammered out in state budget talks
With a deadline for passage of a new state budget on the horizon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators are still trying to hammer out a new spending plan for the fiscal year.
Under investigation and under fire by some of his colleagues to resign, Cuomo is pushing for an on-time budget to show that he can still run the state. But many issues are still unresolved.
With an influx of billions of dollars from the federal stimulus plan, it looks like one thing that will make the final budget plan is a significant increase in school aid. While the amount will vary greatly district-to-district, the overall statewide pool could go up more than 7%.
"Our goal is to have a full funding of foundation aid in three years. That would be an additional $1.2 billion this year with a promise that over the next two years, we'll get to the end of that," says state Sen. Shelley Mayer, the education committee chair.
New taxes on the upper class and a proposed environmental bond act are still being discussed.
Meanwhile, people came to the state Capitol from across the state to put the focus on opioid addiction and treatment. They are demanding that a $330 million court settlement the state received from an opioid manufacturer be used for drug treatment. Right now, Cuomo is proposing to use the money in the general fund.
Linda Ventura's son Thomas died from an overdose and feels the fight is personal.
"This is blood money. My son gave his life to this disease," says Ventura, of Kings Park. "People can say it was a choice. At one point, he made one bad choice, but then his disease took over."
The state Senate is proposing that the money have a specific use.
"These millions of dollars need to go for more treatment, more beds for treatment, more education for our students to stay away from opioids," says state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore). "There's a multitude of uses, but it's not for the general fund."
In response to the opioid money issue, Cuomo's office says budget negotiations are ongoing.