Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers are preparing to ban single-use plastic bags statewide.
The environmentally-friendly move, which made headway Wednesday during budget talks, could also include a fee on paper bags as a way to encourage people to bring reusable totes with them when they go grocery shopping.
"Cracking down on the environmental blight caused by plastic bags has long been a priority for the Governor and was one of the first budget proposals he unveiled this year," said Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzopardi. "We're encouraged by the emerging consensus on this issue and will continue to work with the Legislature to finalize a budget that works for all New Yorkers."
The ban comes two years after Cuomo blocked the City's attempts to place a 5-cent fee on plastic bags because store owners would have kept all of the funds.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) suggested this week that some of the money from a paper bag fee should go to environmental projects.
Lawmakers are discussing carveouts for low-income residents and the possibility that some counties could opt out of the fee portion of the measure.
"Those are part of the details we're working out," Sen. Todd Kaminsky, the chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee. "We know we want plastic and paper to be addressed. We know we like the ban-fee combo, but that's what we're working out."
The Long Island Democrat said he is hopeful that there will be a consensus in the coming days, adding that the ban has been "kicked around Albany for way too long" and noting that schoolkids in his district often cite pollution and plastic waste as some of their biggest concerns.
"I go to many elementary schools every year... all children give the same answer when I say 'if you could be in Albany and be the governor one day what's the one thing you would do,' they all say do something about the pollution, do something about the plastic," Kaminsky said.