State

Agreement on fiscal year 2018 budget reached, approving ride-hailing services in upstate New York

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New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers reached an agreement on fiscal year 2017-18 budget on Friday, forging a path toward legalizing ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to operate in upstate New York and Long Island.

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft will soon be able to operate in Syracuse as New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers reached an agreement on a budget for the 2018 fiscal year on Friday.

Under the agreement, Uber and Lyft will be authorized to operate in New York state in 90 days.

The deal was hammered four days after the state legislature extended the deadline for passing the budget by two months as a result of the legislative body missing the original April 1 budget deadline. The budget will be $153.1 billion — capping a spending growth at 2 percent, according to a press release from Cuomo’s office.

“With this Budget, New York is once again showing what responsible government can achieve,” Cuomo said in the press release.

The budget approves ride-hailing services operation to expand to upstate New York and Long Island, as they have previously only been allowed to be operate in the New York City area.

Under the deal between state lawmakers and Cuomo, the state bears more of the responsibility, a contrast from the ride-hailing service bill proposed in the New York State Assembly that would have given local municipalities more control in regulation. Specifically, the Department of Motor Vehicles will have oversight over the companies to make sure they follow laws, rules and regulations, according to the press release. The agreement also creates minimum safety standards for the services, such as mandatory background checks, monitoring traffic safety, anti-discrimination protections and zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies, per the release.

The companies are mandated to have $1.25 million minimum insurance levels while a passenger is using the ride-hailing service, according to the release. The budget states that workers’ compensation insurance for ride-hailing service drivers will be offered through the New York Black Car Operators’ Injury Compensation Fund, an injury compensation fund that gives benefits to drivers in New York City.

State lawmakers have previously expressed their hope to The Daily Orange that if the budget process goes well, there will be ride-hailing services in Syracuse area as early as this summer.

The budget also creates the Excelsior Scholarship Program, enabling families making up to $125,000 per year eligible for free tuition at State University of New York’s and City University of New York’s two- and four-year colleges by 2019. It also spends $19 million to support a program that assists students attending private not-for-profit colleges, such as Syracuse University, by providing a maximum $3,000 award and requiring private colleges to offer a match and freeze student tuition for the duration of program.

“This Budget continues the progress we have achieved to improve the lives of New Yorkers, and build a stronger, better Empire State that truly lives up to its motto: Excelsior,” Cuomo said in the press release.

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