4.8.2022 Advocacy Alert: NYS Budget: What You Need to Know
April 8, 2022
Today, Governor Hochul and the state legislature are finalizing the FY2023 budget. The budget is Hochul’s first as Governor and her only one before facing voters this November. In total, the budget will spend $220 billion, a record amount made possible by historic federal aid.
The BNP was in frequent communication with the Governor and local lawmakers regarding numerous budget provisions.
As lawmakers iron out the final details this afternoon, here is what we know about this budget:
Bills Stadium. Hochul confirmed Thursday the state would provide $600 million to help finance the construction of a new Bills stadium. Only $182 million will come from the state budget; the rest will come from funds the state received from its gaming compact with the Seneca Nation. The deal will keep the Bills in our region for the next three decades. Learn more here.
Brownfield Cleanup Program. The budget extends this essential program for ten years. Unfortunately, the budget also adds a crushing $50,000 application fee to the BCP. The BNP strongly advocated against the fee, and are extremely disappointed to see it included. The BCP battle does not end here. The BNP has weighed in on proposed BCP regulations that would make participation more expensive. Read the proposed regulations and comment on them by April 21 here.
Extended Producer Responsibility Act. This proposed reform to our state’s recycling industry was not included in the final budget. Governor Hochul initially proposed this legislation in her Executive Budget, but the BNP raised logistical and cost concerns to our leaders. The BNP is pleased to see this proposal omitted from the budget. However, the battle is not over. Many environmental advocates decried Hochul’s EPR proposal as insufficient, and are pushing for a more aggressive version before the end of session. The BNP will continue its advocacy on this issue and keep you informed of updates.
Unemployment Insurance Crisis. Multiple sources tell the BNP the budget will not provide any business relief from the looming unemployment insurance rate increases. The state’s UI trust fund has $9 billion in outstanding debt, and without state action, the Comptroller warned that employers could see rate increases of $21 per employee. The state must now hope the federal government will relieve some or all of the debt, an uncertain gamble.
Gas Tax Relief. The budget will suspend a portion of New York’s gas tax from June 1 through the end of the year. Specifically, the state will reportedly suspend the “8 cent a gallon state motor fuel tax and 8 cent a gallon sales tax, but not the 17.3 cent petroleum business tax.”
Middle Class Tax Cuts. The budget accelerates the Middle-Class Personal Income Tax cuts by two years.
Corporate Franchise Tax. In 2014, New York eliminated the corporate franchise tax for manufacturers organized as C-corps. The BNP has long advocated for this tax cut to be extended to small manufacturers. Unfortunately, the Legislature missed another opportunity to address this problem in the budget.
Childcare. The state will 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. Hochul said the state will spend about $7 billion over the next four years into childcare.
Opportunities for Reentry. The budget provides for vocational training and TAP expansion for incarcerated individuals, providing them with a meaningful second chance at the completion of their sentence.
SUNY Aid. The state will spend an additional $400 million on SUNY and CUNY campuses. Hochul said the budget will “unleash the power of higher education to lift people out of their circumstances, and also to stop the disinvestment in SUNY and CUNY.”
Tuition Assistance Program Expansion. Hochul said the budget will expand TAP eligibility to part-time students. Last month, lawmakers proposed raising the TAP income ceiling and maximum award. Details of that expansion will be finalized this weekend.
Infrastructure & Development
Broadband. The state will make significant investments in the ConnectALL broadband program, using funds from the federal government. The BNP recently testified at a hearing on how the state can maximize its broadband investment. The budget also repeals the broadband right-of-way tax, a BNP priority which will reduce buildout costs and maximize the public’s investment.
Capital Plan. After receiving an additional $4.6 billion in transportation funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the state will enact a $32.8 billion 5-year capital plan. This level of investment is disappointing because the state reduced its own contribution, failing to leverage the historic federal windfall.
All-Electric Buildings. This proposal was not included in the final budget. The state strongly considered a requirement that most new buildings must be 100% electric-powered by 2024 – a proposal from the Climate Action Council’s Draft Scoping Plan. While this proposal failed to gain steam in budget negotiations, it remains a possibility over the next few months.
Emergency Rental Assistance. The state will replenish the Emergency Rental Assistance Program with an additional $800 million. This key program prevents evictions and makes landlords and distressed tenants whole.
Climate Investment. The budget increases the proposed size of the Environmental Bond Act to $4.2 billion. The Bond Act must be approved by voters this November to take effect. If approved, the fund will be used for climate change mitigation projects.
Other Newsworthy Issues
Bail Reform. The budget amended the heavily-criticized 2019 cash bail reforms. Judges will have a greater ability to detain violent criminals or those with a record of reoffending. The issue was the most contentious of the budget negotiations.
Criminal History. The Legislature did not include Hochul’s Clean Slate proposal, which would automatically seals the criminal records of some offenders if they do not reoffend for a certain number of years. Importantly, employers would not have been able to see sealed criminal records for potential applicants. In a speech Thursday, Hochul vowed to address this issue before the session ends in June.
Healthcare for Undocumented Immigrants. In one of the more heavily debated decisions, the budget did not include a proposed $345 million to expand Essential Plan coverage to undocumented immigrants. Hochul said the state will provide coverage to low-income, uninsured immigrants age 65 and older and also provide postpartum coverage to 1 year following the last day of pregnancy for low-income, uninsured women.
Alcohol-to-Go. One of the most popular COVID-era policies was allowing restaurants and bars to serve alcoholic drinks to-go. The budget extends this provision for three years. There are restrictions on full-sized bottles, and drinks must be sold with food.
If you have further questions on any of these programs, please do not hesitate to contact BNP staff.
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.
The New York State Legislature is concluding its 2022 legislative session. The final week included a flurry of legislative activity on numerous issues of importance. Legislation that passed both houses will go to Governor Hochul’s desk for consideration. Legislation that did not pass both houses is stalled for the