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Hochul unveils budget with tax cut, health care worker bonuses, ‘pothole’ money

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:09 PM EST
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - What a difference a year makes.

This time last year, the state was coming up several billion dollars short, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic locking down everything.

This morning, Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a budget which increases spending, thanks to billions from the federal government, boom times on Wall Street, and higher taxes on top earners imposed by the state legislature in 2021.

Hochul has money to burn, for the moment. But she won’t.

“We know the federal funds will eventually run out, and that’s why we’re not banking on them for the future,” Hochul said during her budget presentation.

“We’re not creating recurring expenses or programs we can’t pay for,” she said. “All commitments are either one time expenditures, or with reasonable expectation of revenue growth.”

The Hochul administration is putting money aside - a ‘rainy day’ fund the state does not now have. The goal is to save 15 percent of the state’s budget.

All that said, the budget totals a record $216 billion and contains a little something for a lot of New Yorkers. Some highlights:

- She speeds up a ‘middle class tax cut,’ so that if you’re eligible, you get the full benefit this year rather than 2025.

- There’s a one year ‘Homeowner Tax Rebate Credit.’ A statement from Hochul’s office said the average benefit will be nearly $970.

- Health care workers will get up to $3,000 in bonuses.

- The state’s public schools get a record $31 billion in aid.

- Part-time students in the state’s SUNY schools would get more access to money from the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which they traditionally have not been able to use.

“So by allowing part-time TAP, you allow individual students to work, take courses that are not necessarily degree bearing courses, and be able to use that to get a job,” said Robert Mujica, the state’s Budget Director.

- There is money for a tax credit for farmers in case the state’s wage board rules farmers have to start paying laborers overtime after 40 hours, instead of 60.

Like all budgets, Hochul’s is part spending plan, part wish list. She proposes to spend billions, but according to her budget director, the state’s budget will stay in balance at least through 2027, five years from now.

And potholes? Hochul would spend nearly $33 billion on infrastructure projects (roads and bridges and such). She noted during her budget presentation that a cool billion of that is to ‘pave our potholes.”

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