NY Senate approves $212 billion state budget

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ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York state Senate voted in favor of a $212 billion budget deal early Wednesday after working late into the night.

The Assembly still has some bills to vote on Wednesday before the budget heads to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

The governor held a briefing Wednesday morning to break down the details of the plans and goals in the budget. Watch his briefing in full:

The Senate’s approval came after New York lawmakers reached the major budget deal Tuesday afternoon, days after the official deadline.

With New York reeling from the financial impact of COVID-19, legislators struggled to come to an agreement. The budget priorities include school aid, rent relief, small business recovery and nursing home reforms. It also focuses on pandemic response and recovery.

There is also a controversial fund to help workers who were “excluded” from federal pandemic relief, namely the undocumented.  To pay for it all, New York’s wealthiest residents and companies will pay more in taxes.

Senate leaders from each party gave their closing remarks on the budget in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says federal aid from the American Rescue Plan was desperately needed to offset the economic damage from COVID-19. Additionally, she highlighted the additional direct state funding that will go to business owners.

“This is a bold budget that takes historic action during unprecedented times, and for that, I am proud,” said Stewart-Cousins.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt doesn’t think the plan is enough. He adds that the budget wastes the federal aid instead of using it to stimulate the economy.

“It is a bad budget for small businesses, it is a bad budget for working class, tax paying, law abiding New Yorkers,” said Ortt.

One of the main points of contention on the budget between parties is the Excluded Worker Fund.

Stewart-Cousins says it will provide financial resources to workers who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic but were ineligible for aid. Ortt calls it a “$2.1 billion taxpayer giveaway to illegal immigrants,” and accuses the majority of using it to push their “agenda.” Stewart-Cousins calls the rhetoric from Republicans on this issue “dehumanizing.”

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