Hochul proposes $216B state budget for 2022-23

State Budget Director Robert Mujica provides a briefing for journalists on Gov. Kathy Hochul's 2022-2023 budget proposal on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

State Budget Director Robert Mujica provides a briefing for journalists on Gov. Kathy Hochul's 2022-2023 budget proposal on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday outlined a $216.3 billion spending plan that includes a significant increase in school aid and money for a profusion of issues facing the state, from labor shortages to aging infrastructure.

The governor’s executive budget for 2022-23 is her opening play in a budget negotiation process with an April 1 deadline. The Assembly and Senate majorities have their own priorities, as does an army of advocates and lobbyists that mobilize in budget season.

The Fiscal 2022 budget, which runs through March 31, jacked up spending more than 10% as the state was flush with federal COVID relief and the proceeds from a state income tax increase on corporations and wealthy individuals.

Hochul’s Fiscal 2023 budget would increase spending 3.1% — slightly less than the rate of inflation, she said.

Presenting her outline Tuesday morning, Hochul said her priority now is the same as when she replaced Andrew Cuomo as governor: to protect New York from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But we also must pass a bold agenda that’ll do more than just help us recover from this crisis. We need to embrace this moment of possibility and use it to redefine New York’s destiny,” she said.

“How? First by rebuilding our healthcare and teacher workforces, providing tax relief to those who need it the most, speeding up economic growth and creating good paying middle-class jobs, strengthening our infrastructure and confronting climate change, securing public safety and protecting our communities, making housing more affordable and ensuring every New Yorker has a roof over their head, enacting bold reforms that will restore trust in [the] state and [show] we’re changing the culture and creating workplaces that are free of harassment.”

That sentence is only the barest summary of a proposal that fills a 165-page booklet.

Some major points:

  • $31.3 billion in state school aid, the most ever and 7.1% more than the current fiscal year.
  • Accelerated tax relief under the eight-year middle-class tax cut that began in Fiscal 2018.
  • A five-year, $32.8 billion Department of Transportation capital plan.
  • A five-year, $1.5 billion investment in SUNY and CUNY colleges.
  • A five-year, $25 billion housing plan to create or preserve 100,000 affordable homes.
  • $10 billion over an unspecified period to boost the human and physical infrastructure of the state’s healthcare system, with the goal of a 20% increase in the healthcare workforce.
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in small-business assistance.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli praised his fellow Democrat for proposing to build up the state’s rainy day fund by $4.3 billion but reserved further comment until his office could perform a more detailed analysis.

Hochul’s budget director, Robert Mujica, said this January is very different from the last, when the state was looking at a four-year, $39 billion budget hole and federal assistance was an uncertain prospect. Federal aid, strong tax revenues and a resurgent financial sector have buoyed the state over the past year, he said.

He called it a smart budget that balances risk, need, caution and preparation.

Hochul’s presumptive challenger in November, U.S. Rep Lee Zeldin, a Long Island Republican, called the budget a continued assault on the wallets of New Yorkers and noted that the state leads the nation in population loss.

SOME DETAILS

Some dollar figures and details contained in Hochul’s budget summary:

  • $750 million to construct a new Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany for the state Department of Health;
  • $500 million for offshore wind infrastructure, including the tower fabrication planned in the Port of Albany;
  • $261 million for upstate transit systems, a 13% increase;
  • $100 million for assistance to small and rural communities under a newly created NY Forward program;
  • $250 million to restart the Restore New York Communities program, which supported municipal efforts to reuse or demolish vacant or abandoned or deteriorated properties;
  • $105 million in new capital funding for the Olympic Regional Development Authority, most of it to help prepare for the 2023 World University Games next January in Lake Placid;
  • $2.8 billion for so-called safety net hospitals, those where a significant portion of patients are uninsured or Medicaid patients or are Medicaid and Medicare eligible;
  • $1 billion to bring affordable broadband services to more areas of the state;
  • $357 million is expected in revenue from mobile sports betting, which debuted in New York with a total of $150 million in wagers on Jan. 8 and 9.
  • $18 million in tax and $40 million in license fees is projected to be collected from the new, legal recreational marijuana industry in its first year.
  • Non-traditional vacation rentals — apparently a reference to short-term services such as Airbnb — would be subjected to state and local sales tax, just like hotels, motels and B&Bs.
  • Localities not yet at a 4% local sales tax rate could increase to 4% without state permission,  and the increase wouldn’t need to be renewed.
  • Up to three new casino licenses would be authorized, and could be awarded anywhere in the state.
  • Over the course of four years, the income eligibility limit for child care subsidies would be raised from 200% of the federal poverty level to 300%, which would be an annual income of $80,000 for a family of four.
  • The Livingston Avenue railroad bridge between Albany and Rensselaer would be modernized.
  • The Excluded Workers Fund that proved controversial in the current budget — $2.1 billion for undocumented immigrants not eligible for other COVID-era assistance — would be zeroed out.

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