NEW YORK (PIX11) — A behemoth $229 billion agreement between Democrats running New York touches everything from the minimum wage, to crime, to the MTA.
There will be five free bus routes, one in each of the five boroughs. However, it will come at a cost, a slight fare increase, although less than New Yorkers were expecting.
The MTA promised in return that its finances will be stabilized and pledged to increase weekend and overnight service. MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber on Friday attempted to put a positive spin on the plan.
“Not only are you going to get the same service you’ve been getting, but you’re also going to get more night and more weekend service thanks to this budget from [Gov. Kathy Hochul] and the Legislature,” he said.
Lieber offered no details on where New Yorkers would see that expansion nor where the free bus lanes might be.
The MTA still has to find $400 million in savings somehow, plus New York City is getting hit hard to fix the MTA’s budget. The state will ask the city government to pay $165 million more each year for the MTA.
Additionally, city businesses — but not in the suburbs — will see a slight tax increase.
City Councilman Keith Powers said the nearly month-delayed state budget has made figuring out the city’s own finances more difficult.
New York City is getting $1 billion from the state to help better address the migrant crisis. It is about a quarter of what Mayor Eric Adams said is needed. Still, Hochul’s ambitious plan to push communities to build more affordable housing was left on the bargaining table.
“It did take a little longer than expected, but the product is extraordinary,” Hochul argued of the handshake agreement, which still requires votes next week.
Hochul pointed out other budget items, including a minimum wage increase to $16 per hour next year and $17 by 2027; plus a change to the state’s controversial bail reform law’s “least restrictive means” standard. She hopes it will give judges more authority to set bail in cases involving violent crime.
Progressive Democrats blasted the deal as a betrayal of necessary reform. While Republicans said it does not go far enough.