New York lawmakers finalized a new $163 billion budget over the weekend that includes additional funding for water infrastructure enhancements through capital bonding.
The state’s fiscal 2018 spending plan, which was passed Sunday night, eight days after an April 1 deadline, initiates the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 aimed at helping municipalities throughout the state upgrade their drinking and waste water treatment facilities. The legislation is $500 million more than the $2 billion Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed in his executive budget plan, and will be funded through appropriation bonds backed by personal income and sales taxes.
"The increased funding levels in this budget will help local governments across the state invest in their drinking and waste water treatment facilities, which in too many cases have gone without significant improvements for too long,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-the Bronx, said in a statement. "Water quality money is an important down payment on the future of our environment.”
The water funding plan approved with the budget provides financial support for any mitigation and remediation involving contaminated public drinking water supplies. It designates $245 million for water quality improvement projects throughout the state and $200 million to improve conditions in the New York City watershed.
"The water infrastructure funding commitment is good news for local governments statewide," said Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse. "Thanks to the monies allocated in this budget, it will now be more feasible for local governments to consider moving forward on projects to upgrade their drinking and wastewater infrastructure."
The approved fiscal plan, which was New York’s first late budget in seven years, extends the "millionaire's tax" to preserve $4.5 billion in state revenue. Lawmakers also agreed as part of the budget agreement to invest $163 million for providing free tuition to the state’s public colleges for families earning less than $125,000 in a plan that will be phased in over three years.
New York State general obligation bonds are rated Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA-plus by S&P Global Ratings, Fitch Ratings and Kroll Bond Rating Agency.