Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his eighth Executive Budget Address at the Clark Auditorium of the New York State Museum in Albany on Tuesday, January 16th. Proposing a $168.2 billion budget in a year where New York faces a $4.4 billion deficit and must navigate around an anticipated $2 billion cut in federal funding, the Governor characterized his plan as challenging and one of the most difficult due to Federal actions and uncertainties. Citing issues with the recently passed federal tax plan, Cuomo explained that the purpose of this year’s budget proposal was to protect New Yorkers from tax increases levied by the federal government’s elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deductions, which Cuomo described as an “economic missile” launched at New York and other traditionally blue states. The Executive Budget Proposal, which keeps most state spending under the 2% spending increase cap, calls for over $1 billion in “revenue raisers” including, among other items, a $0.02 per milligram surcharge on opioids, a mandated state sales tax for online marketplaces, and a tax increase on health insurers who receive a windfall from the federal plan. Details regarding options for a payroll tax and other income tax reform, a major piece of Governor Cuomo’s proposal, are expected to be released by the State Tax Department later this week, according to NY Budget Director Robert Mujica. The address expanded upon many of the Governor’s State of the State proposals and it appears the executive budget will include both fiscal and non-fiscal policy items, including $262 million to support the 6.5% salary increase to direct care professionals, a 3% increase in education funding across the board, a 2.5% increase for the state judiciary, a statewide, uniform sexual conduct workplace policy, as well as funding for a specialized Joint Commission On Public Ethics (JCOPE) task force to expedite sexual harassment investigations. The Governor acknowledged the difficulty the State faces in maintaining economic viability in the current climate and easing the tax burden New Yorkers face. “This is going to be the toughest thing we’ve done as a government,” Cuomo noted. “This is going to be the most difficult challenge that we’ve had to take on because it’s the most complicated, and it comes at a difficult time.” Joint Legislative Budget Hearings are scheduled to commence January 23rd and negotiations between the two Houses and the Governor will be on-going in an effort to meet the April 1st Budget deadline. Please continue to check this blog for periodic updates on the development of the final FY 2019 State Budget.