3.15.22 Advocacy Alert: NY Legislators Release Budget Proposals
March 15, 2022
Advocacy Alert: NY Legislators Release Budget Proposals
This weekend, the state Senate and Assembly released their one-house budget proposals. These proposals are symbolic documents the chambers use to highlight their priorities as they take their marks before a two-week sprint of budget negotiations.
Governor Hochul’s proposal, released in January, serves as the foundation of the budget. The Assembly omitted most policy changes from its one-house budget, preferring to keep their cards closer to the vest ahead of negotiations. The Senate’s proposal is a more thorough reaction to Hochul’s and serves as a stronger indicator of where the legislative chambers want to move.
The most notable issues in the legislative proposals:
Taxes. Both houses accepted Hochul’s proposal to accelerate the Middle-Class Personal Income Tax by two years. Both proposals also included small business tax relief, and the Senate included the BNP’s proposal to extend tax cuts to small businesses who pay under the corporate franchise tax.
Bills Stadium. There is no direct provision for a new Bills stadium. When asked about money, Hochul recently said the state will “be able to find the resources in the budget. There’s unrestricted money, there’s money for economic development, there’s money for infrastructure. So there are various sources. … We’ll be able to identify what is needed to ensure that the Buffalo Bills stay here in western New York.” The Legislature’s omission of stadium cash suggests the deal’s details will not be added to the budget until the final hour.
Childcare. The Senate’s proposal would provide $10 billion to expand access to childcare over the next three years. It would also increase the income eligibility limit for childcare subsidies from 200% FPL to 300%, meaning a family of four with an income below $83,250 would be eligible. The proposal also directs the Child Care Task Force to develop a plan for achieving “free universal child care” within four years. The Assembly’s proposal goes even farther – to 400% FPL. The proposal also directs the Child Care Task Force to develop a plan for achieving “free universal child care” within four years.
Higher Education. The Senate proposal would provide $600m for the “SUNY New Deal” and $500m for the “CUNY New Deal.” The Assembly took a similar approach, providing $200m to both SUNY and CUNY. While the BNP supports heightened investment in our regional SUNY institutions, the parity between new funding for SUNY and CUNY is perplexing. SUNY operates 39 more campuses than CUNY and does so without financial support from the City of New York. For any heightened investment in our state’s campuses, SUNY should see significantly more funds than CUNY. The TAP Gap would be fully funded. The TAP income ceiling would rise from $80k to $110k, and the minimum award would be increased to $1,000.
Workforce Development. The Senate and Assembly both rejected a Hochul proposal to allow private sector employment for incarcerated individuals. Otherwise, both largely supported the workforce proposals included in Hochul’s executive budget.
Broadband. The Senate proposed creating a new “Division of Broadband Development” within the state’s Department of Economic Development. It also accepted Hochul’s $1.45 billion ConnectALL broadband proposal, a sign that significant state investment into broadband is likely a done deal.
Brownfield Cleanup Program. The Senate scrapped the misguided $50k application fee that Hochul included in her renewal of the BCP. However, the Senate’s version only extends the program five years, a missed opportunity to ensure the long-term success of this program. The Assembly did not include a BCP renewal in its budget.
Housing. Last year, the state enacted the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act (HONDA), which aims to convert distressed hotels and commercial properties into affordable housing options. Both houses included $150 million for HONDA projects. The Assembly and Senate proposals also include $1.25 and $1.6 billion, respectively, for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a key tool to prevent eviction.
Infrastructure. The Executive Budget failed to leverage the historic federal investment into infrastructure. Thankfully, the Senate’s version contains a larger spending plan, adding about $425m in new transportation spending to Hochul’s proposal. Additionally, the Senate plan gives DOT an additional $2 billion in bonding authority. The Assembly proposed adding an additional $200m.
Extended Producer Responsibility. The Senate included the Governor’s Extended Producer Responsibility concept, which would add significant costs to producers and consumers. The Assembly omitted the EPR proposal.
Healthcare. To expand coverage to remaining uninsured New Yorkers, both chambers proposed spending $345 million to expand Essential Plan coverage to undocumented immigrants.
Unemployment Insurance. To combat the UI crisis, the Senate allocated $600m over the next two years to pay off some of the state’s UI debt. This investment is appreciated but remains below the amount needed to prevent significant premium increases. The Senate also proposed freezing UI contribution rates for the next two years, which would delay but not eliminate the pain of the UI debt. The Assembly did not address this issue.
Climate. Both budgets would increase the Environmental Bond Act by $2 billion to be used for climate change mitigation projects. Both included enhanced tax credits for installing solar and geothermal systems. Many of the top climate policy changes were intentionally ignored in this budget because the Climate Action Council is still collecting public comments on its proposed policy recommendations.
Public Campaign Financing. The Senate proposed adding $30 million to the public campaign finance program, increasing available subsidies for their campaigns.
Refugee Resettlement. The Assembly proposed $6 million for refugee resettlement efforts; the Senate proposed $10m.
The state budget is due by April 1. The BNP continues to communicate with our leaders about many key issues and will update you on what the final budget includes.
Worldwide, companies throughout every business sector are dealing with significant supply chain challenges. The Buffalo Niagara region is certainly no exception. Increased costs, labor shortages, logistical breakdowns, and a host of other issues are impacting all aspects of the economy from manufacturer to customer.
Last night, New York voters selected party nominees for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Erie County Clerk.
Primaries for U.S. House and State Senate seats will be held on August 23. No Assembly candidates in Erie or Niagara counties faced primaries.
In the next few months, prepare to receive a much higher bill for unemployment insurance (UI). The BNP spent over a year warning state leaders that this was coming. The state failed to act, and now, the chickens are coming home to roost.
One set of primary elections will take place on Tuesday, June 28. Early voting is open now. Look up your polling place and sample ballot here: (Erie County) (Niagara County). Note that primary elections are only open to voters registered in that party.