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New York State Senate, Assembly Pass Legalization Of Marijuana

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany lawmakers face a budget deadline of midnight Wednesday with lots of unresolved issues, like how much to raise taxes.

However, legalizing marijuana, appears to be a done deal.

As CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer reported, lawmakers still may be far apart on how much "green" New York taxpayers will have to fork over to fund state programs, but they came together on another "green" initiative Tuesday night as both houses passed legislation to legalize marijuana for those over 21.

The Senate passed the measure 40-23, while the Assembly gave it the go-ahead, 100-49.

"Instead of New Yorkers traveling to neighboring states of New Jersey and/or Massachusetts, they will spend their money here," Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said.

The bill next moves to the governor's desk.

"For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public," Cuomo said in a statement. "New York has a storied history of being the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry on that legacy. I look forward to signing this legislation into law."

The marijuana bill did have a green component. The potential $4.2 billion industry will mean $350 million in tax revenue for the state, though it's a drop in the bucket compared to proposals from the Assembly and Senate for a $7 billion tax hike on millionaires, corporations, capital gains, estates and the owner of high value second homes in New York City.

There was intense lobbying on both sides of the issue ahead of the April 1 budget deadline.

"This is a long time coming," said Sen. John Liu.

Liu, chairman of the New York City education committee, told Kramer about an agreement to give poor school districts like New York City, Hempstead, Mount Vernon and Yonkers more money: $4.2 billion over three years. That's $1.4 billion a year. The city's share is $560 million annually

"It will be a really great beginning for all New York City school kids, especially as we go back to in-person learning. Schools get back on track and the students do much, much better. That's what we all want," Liu said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called it a game changer.

"It's going to allow us to do so many things that we need to do long term," de Blasio said. "Go to full universal 3K in the coming years. It's going to ensure that we are going to have a lot more support for kids in terms of mental health, social workers and trained adults to help address the really profound mental health needs of our kids."

And there was some pessimism about the ability of an embattled governor and the Legislature to meet the budget deadline. Members of the Assembly were told to be prepared to work all week.

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