HomeTop StoriesHochul declares victory with a $237 billion New York spending plan

Hochul declares victory with a $237 billion New York spending plan

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $237 billion budget deal with state lawmakers Monday with the message: The doubters were wrong.

The governor this year delved into politically thorny issues like housing, public safety and support for the thousands of migrants who have arrived in the state over the past two years.

In the end, Hochul largely got what she wanted from the state legislature, despite calls for more support for low-income renters and skepticism from her fellow Democrats about increased penalties for people who steal from stores and attack employees.

These are all issues of great concern to New York voters and could play a major role in this year’s upcoming elections. The policy victories could also provide a boost for Hochul, who has registered lukewarm job and favor ratings with voters during much of her term.

“I heard far too often for my taste: this is how it is always done. That has never worked for me and it never will,” Hochul said at a Capitol news conference announcing the tentative agreement. “We had some very difficult conversations about how to change the entrenched status quo.”

The spending plan adds about $4 billion in additional spending over Hochul’s original proposal in January and does not include increases to the state’s personal income tax.

Democrats and unions also succeeded in pushing for changes to a less generous pension tier that was first created 14 years ago and is expected to cost taxpayers an additional $400 million annually, according to an analysis by the independent watchdog Citizens Budget Commission.

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And despite Hochul’s statement that she had the “parameters of a conceptual agreement” with lawmakers on the budget, there was still work to be done.

Democratic lawmakers were still discussing the final details of the budget, including a contentious last-minute effort to expand Mayor Eric Adams’ control over public schools.

Including the issue at the last minute could extend final approval of the budget, which is now more than two weeks past its April 1 due date.

“It’s an important and complicated issue,” said Senator Mike Gianaris. “Members rightly want to know what is being proposed.”

New York will increase funding by $500 million to provide housing, health care, legal services and job placement for migrants, bringing total spending to $2.4 billion.

The money is less than the $6 billion requested by Adams, whose city has seen 184,000 migrants arrive in the past two years.

Still, Adams embraced the preliminary budget plan as “a win for New Yorkers” — pointing to the additional migrant aid, the housing package and the possibility of the mayor’s control being extended for up to two years as part of the spending plan.

“We have made clear that we need additional support from our partners in Albany to fully realize these goals and today we celebrate as most of our key requests have been met by our state partners,” Adams said in a statement.

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Final details for the state’s costly Medicaid program also had yet to be fully resolved.

And Hochul didn’t get everything in order earlier this year. A proposal to regulate social media companies by preventing children from being exposed to algorithm-based feeds was rejected.

Nevertheless, the broad lines that Hochul announced on Monday were not easy to achieve.

It took Hochul two years to create a housing package — a concern she said was part of a broader “affordability crisis” that has led to a spike in emigration from the state.

An earlier housing package fell apart after bitter negotiations between the governor and the Legislature last year.

At the time, Hochul had sought measures that would have allowed the state to override local zoning laws to expand housing. Suburban lawmakers in crucial counties around New York City, including those on Long Island, objected to the proposal.

This year, Hochul decided to pick up “more carrots” – namely hundreds of millions of dollars for local governments that positively opt for more housing construction.

Hochul has secured a housing package that includes $650 million for local governments to build more homes and new tax breaks for developers to build in New York City. The deal came over the objections of left-wing tenant advocates and some Democratic lawmakers who wanted stronger protections for renters.

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“We could have settled for a watered-down plan and a hollow victory,” she said. “But I refused to accept anything that didn’t meaningfully address the housing supply.”

Still, Republicans and some Democrats weren’t keen on the details of the upcoming housing deal.

New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox said the tenant rules “will only make the situation worse” for housing choices. Democratic state Sen. Julia Salazar added that the housing plan “is really a missed opportunity to provide very basic protections against no-fault evictions and unreasonably high rent increases for tenants, even in New York City.”

Hochul was also willing to thwart her party’s efforts to secure a deal for stronger public safety measures, as public opinion polls show continued voter concerns about crime, and the issue has become increasingly prominent in recent elections .

New York is expected to add more than 20 additional criminal charges that could be considered hate crimes.

And the state is about to crack down on shoplifting: Hochul has successfully pushed to increase criminal charges against people who assault store employees by classifying it as a crime. An additional agreement allows prosecutors to combine the value of stolen goods from multiple retailers and increase charges — a process known as aggregation.

The budget includes $40 million for law enforcement agencies to tackle shoplifting and allow for the hiring of 100 state troopers.

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