Governor unveils state budget plan, local lawmakers voice concerns

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 4:20 PM EST
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled New York state’s budget for 2024 - setting up a showdown with lawmakers.

It has several record-breaking proposals.

The overall spending plan is $227 billion. That’s up about $5.5 billion from this year’s budget.

Some of the biggest investments are in childcare at nearly $8 billion, along with health care, mental health care, and economic development.

“Our $227 billion budget will include unprecedented investments in areas that will make a positive impact in people’s lives. That will make the New York dream real and, as I said, make it safer, more affordable, more livable,” said Hochul. “It’s a thoughtful plan that furthers our progressive values and our priorities as New Yorkers and also ensures fiscal responsibility.”

But Republican state lawmakers from the north country are quick to ask: how will this all get paid for?

“It’s going to be turning to the taxpayer of the state of New York and increase our debt and taxes once again,” said Senator Mark Walzcyk (R. - 49th District).

Assemblyman Scott Gray actually expected the 2024 budget to be less than this year’s budget because there aren’t as many federal dollars coming in after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was looking for the budget to kind of rollback, and instead it’s an expansion. So that’s a major concern,” said Gray (R. - 116th District).

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R. - 117th District) says while there are some aspects of the budget he agrees with like funding for mental health services and bail reform, he adds, “Gov. Hochul’s budget proposal is another bloated, unmitigated disaster for New York taxpayers that yet again totals well over $200 billion. This budget does not accurately reflect the financial struggles New Yorkers are facing as they continue under the thumb of record inflation. While there are plans in the budget we will find common ground on, including more funding for mental health services and reforming our criminal justice system, the final price tag needs to be negotiated down by the Legislature. Taxpayers can’t keep footing the bill for these massive budgets when their return on investment over the last few years has been abysmal.”

Some budget highlights:

  • $35 billion in school aid
  • More than $ 1 billion will go to mental health services, supportive housing, school-based programs, and psychiatric units
  • $1 billion for healthcare capital funding
  • $1.3 billion in economic development, including a tax credit for farmers, refundable for five years

And there’s one thing that doesn’t have a price: a change in New York’s bail reform law that would give judges more discretion on offenses that allow bail.

Walczyk says there are several things he agrees with, but there are others he thinks can go.

“When you’re throwing out $700 million dollars in post-production film tax credit to benefit Hollywood only, that doesn’t make sense to the everyday New Yorker. When you’re throwing out $300 million tax credits just to keep Broadway afloat, that doesn’t impact the lives of every New Yorker,” he said.

The final budget is due on April 1.