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NYS Budget Adopted; Leaders React

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Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday announced the highlights of the just-passed $229 billion FY 2024 Budget.  According to a release from the Governor’s Office, the budget, “reflects Governor Hochul’s bold agenda to make New York more affordable, more livable, and safer by making smart, responsible investments in housing, mental health care, public safety, education, climate initiatives, and more.”  The 2024 Budget does not include any new increases in State income tax.      

“With this Budget, we are delivering on our promise to make the Empire State a more affordable, more livable, safer place for all New Yorkers, “Governor Hochul said. “These bold investments will lift up New Yorkers of today – and tomorrow – while maintaining a solid fiscal footing, and I thank my partners in the Legislature for their collaboration throughout this process.”   

More on the state budget can be found here.

Here is the reaction from other state leaders and organizations:

State Senator Pam Helming:

“This budget spends too much, provides no relief for taxpayers, and no help for small businesses and farms struggling with higher costs. It plans to withhold funds from our local governments, risking even higher property taxes. It does nothing to fix bail and ensure public safety. And the future ban on natural gas hookups will especially hurt our rural residents and increase housing costs.

In a $229 Billion budget, there are some good things. And some priorities we fought for are included. But as one headline read: Nobody’s happy about it.

The budget was late and the vote was rushed. And my constituents deserve better than that.”

Assemblyman John Lemondes:

“Just when you think radical Democrats can’t pull New York any further to the left, they manage to do just that at the expense of just about everyone that’s not a criminal, Hollywood movie executive or green energy zealot. It’s extremely alarming the governor is gloating about banning fossil-fuel-powered appliances and heat, like natural gas stoves, in people’s homes and increasing taxpayer-funded giveaways to Hollywood donors and fat cats. Small businesses and the middle class are suffering here in our state, and yet Democrats have virtually ignored them.

“I’m pleased to see judicial discretion restored for judges to keep violent criminals off the streets, but as with anything in Albany, the devil is in the details and we need to make sure this is a sincere rollback of cashless bail and not just political posturing.

“In light of the budget’s completion, my focus remains unchanged. Family farms, small businesses, middle-class families, veterans, seniors on fixed incomes, and so many more need our help now more than ever, and that’s who I’ll always fight for.”

State Senator Tom O’Mara:

“New York State taxpayers today and long into the future now face having to go on trying to afford, and trying to live and work under, one of the most bloated governmental budgets in the world.

“The bottom line on this budget is that it’s not affordable. To afford it, Governor Hochul and the Democrat majorities in the Legislature will keep on squeezing every penny they possibly can from state and local taxpayers through higher taxes, passing the buck to localities, more borrowing, raiding reserve funds, increasing fees, and every other anti-taxpayer, anti-business, anti-economic opportunity, and anti-economic growth action that’s contained in this new budget and will be the cornerstone of state budgets for a long time to come under one-party, all-Democrat control.

“New York State will remain the nation’s leader in irresponsible, irrational, and unsustainable spending that will overburden and make this state even more unaffordable for taxpayers, families, workers, small businesses, manufacturers, farmers, and every segment of our local economies.”

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano:

“When Governor Hochul released her budget, she claimed it would make New York safer and more affordable. The $229 Billion budget adopted by the legislature did neither. This budget, unfortunately, is full of missed opportunities, misplaced priorities and unsustainable for the future.

“The governor promised to use her executive authority to adopt the needed reforms to our bail and criminal justice laws in the budget to help New Yorkers be safe and feel safe. However, the resulting actions did little, if anything, to address public safety and the crime crisis plaguing communities all across our state. New York still remains the only state in the nation that does not allow judges to consider the dangerousness of an individual to a community when determining their pre-trial release. This budget does not provide the needed changes to bail and discovery laws, raise the age, and an unchecked parole board that continues to release dangerous and violent individuals back into our communities.

“New Yorker families and businesses already faced the highest taxes and worst business climate in the nation. Even as seniors, families, farmers and businesses still battle crippling inflation, this budget continues an unsustainable path of uncontrolled spending and increased debt, while extending businesses tax increases by nearly $3 Billion. This budget will increase taxes on county property taxpayers, It does not provide much-needed relief to small businesses to address their increased unemployment insurance costs assessed on them by this administration to pay back funds borrowed from the federal government to pay for covid unemployment claims. Unemployment claims we know, according to an audit by the Comptroller amounted to over to $11 Billion in unemployment fraud. This budget does not provide the assistance needed to support the wages of our direct support professionals, who are tasked with providing the critical quality of care and quality of life services for our most vulnerable New Yorkers – the developmentally disabled. However, the governor and democrat majorities did make it a priority to provide $ 1 billion to NewYork City for the illegal migrant situation and to provide $700 million in tax credits to Hollywood millionaires for the Hollywood film tax credit.

“In addition, alarmingly, this budget continues a path towards a radical, unaffordable and unreliable energy plan for New York. It provides for a ban on natural gas in new buildings that eliminates energy choice for families and businesses on how they want to heat their homes, cook their food, and power their buildings. It is the first step in a plan to fully electrify all of New York state, including power generation, buildings and transportation. It is unsustainable for the grid, will increase the risk of potential blackouts, drive up utility, construction and home/business retrofit and conversions costs and seriously jeopardize the future reliability of our energy supply for all New Yorkers. It is just one more thing that will continue the exodus of more New York families, farmers, small businesses and manufacturers from our state.”

Rep. Claudia Tenney (NY-24):

“This budget may be the biggest “Big Ugly” of them all. Albany Democrats passed a $229 billion tax-and-spend budget that will raise costs and restrict the rights of upstate New Yorkers,” said Congresswoman Tenney. “This budget makes New York the first state in the country to ban natural gas hookups in new construction, which will result in even higher energy prices for families. New York’s rapid plan toward electrification without sufficient base load capacity is reckless and increases the likelihood of brown and blackouts.

“The so-called ‘reforms’ to New York’s dangerous bail law included in this budget are also toothless. They are totally inadequate, given the serious crime crisis facing our state. The disastrous bail law cannot be fixed; it must be repealed. Under this bill, New York’s criminal justice system will continue to put dangerous criminals and repeat offenders first and victims and safe communities last. The budget also includes a minimum wage hike and adopts an irresponsible proposal by Kathy Hochul to illegally withhold federal Medicaid reimbursements from counties, which will lead to higher property taxes for families. Rather than reform New York’s bloated Medicaid program, Hochul is asking working families to pay even more to sustain it. The changes included in this bill to the structure of the Western Regional OTB are also of grave concern. They will weaken the voices of rural communities across New York’s 24th District and potentially reduce the revenue these counties have come to rely on for decades to fund essential services.

“This budget is a fiscal train wreck for families, small businesses, family farms, senior citizens, and our Upstate communities. It will sadly accelerate New York’s unfortunate transformation from the Empire State to the Exodus State.”

State Comptroller Thomas D. DiNapoli:

“The state budget makes important investments in education and health care, including mental health care, and provides significant, recurring funding to the MTA that will help close budget gaps. The Governor has stated that reserves will equal 15% of State Operating Funds, consistent with recommendations I have long advocated. The budget also makes statutory changes that increase the allowable deposits and balances of the state’s rainy day reserves. The state should put this authority to use by relying more on statutory, rather than informal, reserves. This will help New York catch up with other states in preparing for economic and budgetary risks.

“With an end to federal pandemic aid approaching and the possibility of an economic downturn, it is unclear how recurring obligations will match recurring revenue in the years ahead, which could mean outyear budget gaps that put future funding of critical programs in jeopardy. There is still too much spending through lump sums without details, and the budget still lacks much-needed transparency. Provisions were included that appear to exempt approximately $5 billion from Comptroller oversight. There is also a significant increase in capital projects funding which will place more burden on the state’s remaining debt capacity and New York’s already high debt levels.

“My office will review the final enacted budget and release an analysis in the coming weeks.”

New York State Association of Counties President Michael E. Zurlo:

“New York State’s county governments are disappointed that rather than fulfilling the Governor’s promise to usher in a new era of responsible state government that makes New York more affordable, the enacted budget engages in old Albany budget gimmicks that literally pass the buck onto local taxpayers.

Most significantly, the budget undermines counties’ ability to control the growth of property taxes by pocketing federal Medicaid funding that has historically been shared with counties. These funds were championed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and earmarked for local government taxpayers.

The state’s decision to intercept these funds is totally unnecessary and counterproductive. It will increase Medicaid costs for property taxpayers by hundreds of millions of dollars per year, plus a one-time loss of $1.6 billion of previously owed Medicaid savings that the State has decided to withhold indefinitely. This unilateral action undermines prior Governors M. Cuomo, Pataki, Spitzer, Paterson, and A. Cuomo’s efforts to rein in the impact on local property taxes associated with the state’s Medicaid program. New York counties send to Albany nearly $8 billion each year as the local share of Medicaid expenses and have no control over the costs of the program.

While we’re frustrated by the inclusion of this cost shift, we commend the State Legislature for their efforts to remove this provision from the budget and for securing an agreement to phase out the funding over several years, rather than immediately shifting these costs to local taxpayers.

The budget also targets local taxpayers to finance the state’s decision to double the rates for a special class of public defense attorneys known as 18-B assigned counsel. While an increase in these pay rates is warranted, the state once again abdicates its constitutional responsibility to fund its own policies by raiding previously budgeted funds to finance the increase.

New York State is at a crossroads with a soaring cost of living and a declining population. Reversing this trend starts with reversing the State’s self-sabotaging habit of disguising the true cost of its budget actions by passing those costs on to local governments, who in turn must raise property and sales taxes to cover those new costs. This is regressive and disproportionately impacts seniors and working-class New Yorkers.

New York’s counties want to be part of the solution. We are in the business of providing essential services that make an immediate and tangible impact on the lives of New Yorkers. We should all be building thriving communities where residents can afford to raise their kids, start a business, or retire with dignity.

Unfortunately for all, this budget makes all those goals much harder to achieve.”

New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher:

“The final state budget has some clear victories for the state’s farming community, but concerns remain over a rising minimum wage. The Refundable Investment Tax Credit, a New York Farm Bureau priority that is included in the fiscal plan, will be a boon for farms looking to expand, diversify, or upgrade their businesses over the next five years. It is one of the biggest investments the state has made into New York agriculture in years, and our organization greatly appreciates the support from Gov. Hochul, Sen. Michelle Hinchey, and Assembly Member Donna Lupardo for making this a reality.

We are also grateful for the overall agricultural funding that supports dozens of environmental, marketing, and research programs that farms rely on to improve what they do. This includes an additional $1 million in the Environmental Protection Fund to assist Soil and Water Conservation Districts carry out important assistance to farmers, landowners, and municipalities. Other opportunities in the budget include additional funding for universal school meals for all and procurement programs that will encourage more purchases of local farm products along with the continuation of Nourish NY. Thank you to all of the state lawmakers who are supporting agriculture in the state budget.

While these budget initiatives will benefit New York agriculture, New York Farm Bureau remains deeply concerned over the additional increase of the state’s minimum wage. If a farm cannot compete in the marketplace or make ends meet, nothing else will ultimately matter. This could negatively impact our farm employees, future job creation, and local food production. We ask our leaders to look for additional ways to offset mounting labor costs as the new minimum wage will keep increasing in the coming years along with inflation.

Agriculture is a leading driver of our economy and a provider of locally-produced food. It is imperative that the state not only invest in a stronger food system but create an environment that supports small businesses.”

State DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos:

“DEC applauds Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature for investing in our environment and building upon our existing foundation to address the challenges of climate change in the Fiscal Year 2023-24 State Budget. The additional $500 million in water infrastructure funding and maintaining the Environmental Protection Fund at a historic $400 million will provide local governments, community partners, and state agencies with the means to ensure clean water for communities, protect natural resources, and enhance DEC’s ability to engage the public in environmental justice and other critical issues.

“The Budget’s new climate initiatives prioritize affordability and support innovative ways to achieve our ambitious renewable energy requirements as the state transitions from fossil fuel sources. With these and other ongoing responsibilities, the infusion of over 200 new staff in the budget will be instrumental in helping DEC continue to fulfill our mission, particularly the work underway to implement the Clean Air, Clean Water and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act and enact an economy-wide Cap-and-Invest Program to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. DEC looks forward to our ongoing work to build a greener, equitable, and sustainable future for all New Yorkers.”

New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox:

“If we needed further proof that Kathy Hochul and Democrats in the legislature can’t be trusted to manage New York’s finances, here it is: this budget – negotiated behind closed doors – raises taxes and increases spending. New York’s budget, at over a quarter of a trillion dollars, remains larger than Texas’ and Florida’s combined – and spends 50% more per capita than California.

“Hochul and the Democrats are also raising property taxes on overtaxed homeowners with their Medicaid cost-shift. This policy gives taxpayers yet another reason to flee the Empire State. Failure to repeal the disastrous bail and discovery laws and the ludicrous ban on gas stoves mark Hochul’s complete capitulation to the radical left of her party.

“Democrats’ crushing taxation and regulatory regime will make New York less safe, less affordable and less free. Our population decline will continue, as businesses and citizens alike seek out friendlier, freer climates.”

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