Home News N.Y. State lawmakers pass $237B budget nearly 3 weeks late

N.Y. State lawmakers pass $237B budget nearly 3 weeks late

New York State lawmakers on Saturday approved a $237 billion state budget, unlocking $2.4 billion for the city’s migrant crisis and providing a program to address the city’s dire housing shortage.

The budget, which carries a price tag 3% higher than last year’s spending plan, arrives nearly three weeks past a nominal April 1 deadline and caps three months of push-and-pull between Gov. Hochul, a centrist Democrat, and the left-leaning Democrats who rule the Legislature in Albany.

The governor is expected to sign the legislation into law within days.

Disagreements between lawmakers and Hochul on housing, health care and education animated the budget negotiations. Much of the talks centered on housing, with both sides desperate to drive new development in the city as it faces its worst housing crunch in more than a half-century.

In the end, Hochul and the Legislature worked out an agreement that creates new protections for tenants — a priority of progressives — while also offering tax incentives for developers. The success came after the governor tried and failed to insert an ambitious home-creation blueprint into the budget a year ago.

Hochul also used this year’s budget as a vehicle to give New York City explicit powers to padlock illicit cannabis shops, and to extend mayoral control of city schools, two priorities of her ally Mayor Adams.

Governor Kathy Hochul (Susan Watts/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)
Gov. Hochul said the budget would make New York safer and more livable. (Susan Watts/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

And in a victory for street safety activists, the budget vests power in the city to lower its default speed limit to 20 mph, culminating a furious three-year push by advocates.

In January, Hochul unveiled a $233 billion budget plan that proposed keeping taxes flat, updating the state’s aging school funding formula at the expense of some rural districts, and reviving a lapsed tax break for developers.

The state Senate and Assembly responded with budget proposals that called for $246 billion in total spending, maintenance of the current school funding formula and broad tenant protections.

The Legislature and the governor agreed that $2.4 billion was an appropriate figure for migrant spending, as the city works to shelter more than 60,000 asylum seekers at enormous expense. Adams visited Albany in February to push lawmakers for even more money, but his calls went unanswered.

On other issues, the governor and the legislators met in the middle. The final budget deal modestly lifts spending from Hochul’s proposal, leaves out her most controversial school aid formula changes — which were projected to cut school funding in about half the districts in the state — and includes both tenant protections and developer-friendly tax abatement provisions.

Lawmakers won concessions from the governor on aspects of the housing deal. Hochul had been skeptical of some far-reaching tenant protections. In the end, upward of 70% of New York City tenants will enjoy protections from sharp rent hikes and evictions, according to legislative leaders. Tenants covered by those protections are to be spared annual rent hikes higher than 10%.

The Legislature successfully turned back a proposal from the governor’s office that would have closed a financially troubled state-run central Brooklyn hospital.

Hochul, meanwhile, succeeded in overcoming left-wing pressure to lift taxes on the wealthy, and maneuvered her way to the two-year extension of mayoral control of New York City schools despite headwinds from lawmakers. Mayoral control was due to expire at the end of June without an extension.

And the governor, who often cites public safety as her top priority, also won the creation of tougher, felony-level penalties for assaults of retail workers, despite skepticism within the Legislature.

Hochul’s office said the budget would make New York safer, cheaper and more livable.

“As Bill Parcells said, you are what your record says you are,” Anthony Hogrebe, a Hochul spokesman, said in a statement, referring to the former NFL coach. “Gov. Hochul’s record delivering wins for working New Yorkers in this budget speaks for itself.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here