NY’s $220 billion budget deal changes bail reform, approves Bills stadium deal
New York ironed out a “conceptual deal” on a $220 billion budget deal on Thursday, as lawmakers come to the end of eleventh-hour talks on changes to bail reform, the US gas tax State and a Massive Taxpayer Deal for a New Buffalo Bills Stadium.
The budget was crafted after nearly a week of delay and ultimately added $4 billion to the original budget proposal Governor Kathy Hochul presented in her January budget presentation, leaving room for spending priorities. of last minute.
The budget also lands in the middle of a year when the state is flush with higher-than-expected tax revenues and federal COVID-19 relief funding, and when Hochul is running for a full term as governor.
Hochul said the official wording of the budget and related bills would likely be finalized Thursday through Friday.
“This moment is a unique opportunity not only to relieve families and put more money in people’s pockets, but also to make historic investments in our people and our state,” Hochul said Thursday. “That’s exactly what we’ve been working on, day and night, for weeks now. Crafting a budget that does just that.”
The budget approved expected spending measures, such as funding for the expansion of childcare services and fast-track casino licensing in New York, as well as a $3-per-hour wage increase for New York’s home care workers and a $600 million taxpayer deal. funding for the Bills stadium.
The legislature missed the original budget deadline last Friday and also missed a Monday deadline that could have created a payroll problem for state employees. Lawmakers passed an interim funding measure late Monday to keep the government in office until Thursday.
Late budgets are not unusual in Albany, which has often gone years in a row without a budget on time. Hochul’s predecessor, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, typically passed budgets on or around April 1 during his tenure, but was a week behind the budget in 2021.
Here are highlights of what’s included in this year’s budget deal. The deal also included take-out liquor, a middle-class tax cut, and funding for SUNY schools and hospitals.
Several weeks ago, Hochul offered a 10-point plan to make changes to New York’s public safety measures, including bail reform laws, which were originally signed into law in 2020. The plan would give judges more discretion when granting bail, particularly over whether an individual poses a danger to public safety.
What’s included in the budget is a compromise on several of those things — judges would get additional bail discretion, Hochul said. They could look at the seriousness of the crimes and determine if those crimes were gun-related.
“We are not here to undo progress made in the past,” Hochul noted. “But we need to realize where improvements can and should be made.”
That decision landed in Hochul’s favor, with lawmakers approving $600 million in public funding for the stadium. Another $250 million in public funding would come from Erie County, adding to the $550 million total from the Buffalo Bills and an NFL loan.
The $1.4 billion stadium deal drew mixed reviews from lawmakers and the public, many of whom argued the state had more pressing budget priorities than a new home for a team. of football.
Hochul noted in his budget presentation that most of this taxpayer burden will be offset by part of a recent multimillion-dollar payment from the Seneca Nation in a long-running revenue-sharing dispute. of the nation’s casinos.
Lawmakers had discussed whether to suspend the state gas tax until the end of the year to relieve New Yorkers at the pumps amid inflation and a Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has affected the global oil industry.
The new budget will include a suspension of the state sales tax, which stands at 16 cents per gallon, from June 1 through December 31, Hochul said.
Ethics groups are urging New York to include an overhaul of the state’s ethics watchdog group, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE, in the state budget. Meanwhile, Hochul promised in his state of the state address in January to champion transparency in government after Cuomo fell from his political position amid myriad scandals.
In late March, a group of state Democrats urged Hochul to address JCOPE’s shortcomings and support a government transparency group that would be more independently selected, according to the Times Union.
JCOPE commissioners are currently selected by key state legislators.
Hochul plans to change the system, revealing a plan for a new 11-member commission on government ethics and lobbying. Members would be selected by state officials and legislators, who could then make recommendations to law school deans or delegates, who could then approve or reject those selections, Hochul said.
Baby boomers are aging rapidly, and COVID-19 has exposed the challenges facing New York nursing homes, sparking broader interest in home care for older loved ones or people with disabilities, according to defenders.
The problem is that homeworkers are leaving the field in droves because the pay is so low they’d be better off working in fast food. Advocates for fair pay for home care workers have been gathering in Albany for weeks, pushing state government officials to address what they see as a looming workforce crisis work.
The state will provide nearly $7.4 billion to support a wage increase for home care workers under the budget, which equates to a $3 per hour wage increase for workers, Hochul said.
Hochul’s proposed spending plan, unveiled in January, included a $1.4 billion investment in child care subsidies, which would allow an additional 400,000 children to access state funding.
The Senate and Assembly asked for more in their single-chamber budgets, eventually settling on $3 billion in funding, spread over two years and available to families living up to 300% above the poverty line. poverty.
The new budget would invest more than $7 billion in state support for child care over four years, Hochul said, more than double New York’s current investment in subsidies.
Hochul said she was proud to announce the budget item “as a mother who had to quit her job because I couldn’t find childcare many years ago.”
The agreement allowed the state to expedite licensing for three new casinos for the New York area, in addition to those already operational in upstate.
Sarah Taddeo is the New York State Team Editor for the USA Today Network. Do you have a tip or a comment? Contact Sarah at [email protected] or on Twitter @Sjtaddeo. This coverage is only possible with the support of our readers. Please consider becoming a digital subscriber.