State Budget Update

Shenker Russo and Clark LLP Legislative Update

The State Legislature has completed the State Budget process. The Senate finished voting just after 3 PM Thursday (4/2), and the Assembly passed the final Budget Bill Friday (4/3) morning. After it’s passage, the Budget Bills were delivered to the Governor’s office. The Governor signed the Revenue, TED, ELFA, and PPGG bills. The State Operations, Debt Service, Legislature & Judiciary, Capital Projects, and Aid to Localities bills have all yet to be signed. We are continuing to monitor the status of these bills and will update you when they are signed by the Governor.

As we have previously reported, this Budget process was one filled with many uncertainties because of COVID-19. The state is projected to lose $10 – $15 billion in revenues due the pandemic’s awful effects on the economy. Therefore, many major issues the Governor originally proposed did not make it into the final budget, such as the legalization of recreational marijuana use. Despite many major issues falling off the table during negotiations, the final budget does contain several major provisions, including:

  • The establishment of Paid Sick Leave for New York employees. The provision states that businesses with 5 – 99 employees must provide a minimum of five days of job-protected sick leave per year. Businesses with 100 employees or more will need to provide a minimum of 7 days per year. Finally, any business with fewer than 5 employees will have to provide 5 days of job-protected unpaid sick leave each year.
  • The legalization of Gestational Surrogacy, which would allow LGBTQ couples who are struggling with infertility. The provision establishes criteria for surrogacy contracts, creates a Surrogate’s Bill of Rights, and streamlines the process of “second parent adoption”, which is the process of establishing parenthood when one of the individuals is not the biological parent of a child.
  • A three-part plan aimed at lowering the costs of prescription drugs in the state. The provision creates a cap on insulin co-payments of $100 per month for insured patients, and establishes a commission tasked with studying the feasibility and benefits of potentially implementing a program of importing drugs from Canada. The commission will submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for review.
  • Authorizing the creation of the $3 Billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, which would fund various environmental conservation and restoration and climate mitigation projects around the state.
  • Establishing new Election requirements, such as requiring statewide candidates to get 45,000 signatures during the petitioning process in order to make it on the ballot, this is an increase of 30,000. To receive an automatic ballot line, a provision states that a party must receive at least 130,000 votes (up from 50,000) or 2% of the vote, whichever is higher, every two years in a Presidential or Gubernatorial election.
  • Establishing campaign finance reform, and a Public Campaign Finance System which sets aside $100 million for the public financing of state elections through matching funds. The new reforms set limits on how much money candidates can raise. Candidates running for statewide office will only be allowed to raise a maximum of $18,000 (previously $70,000) in a four-year election cycle from an individual contributor. State Senate candidates will be allowed to raise a maximum of $10,000 (previously $19,300) and Assembly candidates will be allowed to raise a maximum of $6,000 (previously $9,400). Lastly, the new Public Campaign Finance system limits the amount of public money a candidate can receive. Statewide and Gubernatorial candidates can receive a maximum of $3.5 million, State Senate candidates can receive a maximum of $375,000, and Assembly candidates can receive a maximum of $175,000. Each candidate would only be allowed the receive the funding once during the Primary Election, and once during the General Election.
  • The expansion of prevailing wage requirements on projects that have received more than 30% of their funding from public sources.
  • The establishment of a new system of adjusting the budget periodically. The measure authorizes the State Budget Director to analyze state spending three times during the year and adjust any appropriations based on the State’s revenues. If the Budget Director ever chooses to make any adjustment to the State’s spending plan, the Legislature will have 10 days to respond to the changes. This provision also includes a measure that states that any localities receiving federal aid directly because of COVID—19 may need to submit a spending plan with the State before spending any of the money provided.

For a more detailed summary of all the major provisions included in the Budget, you can find a Press Release from Governor Cuomo detailing the highlights here:

Although we have been sending various budget sections and information throughout the week, the Budget Bills are quite extensive. Therefore, we are continuing to review all the bills in depth and will be providing greater analysis in the days and weeks ahead on many of the provisions.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us directly.