A week ago, the New York State Legislature and Executive approved the 2022-2023 State Budget. Although the Budget ultimately passed, I voted no on the Education, Labor and Family Assistance, and Capital Budget bills because I believe that New Yorkers deserved more. This year’s budget provided ample opportunity for our government to prioritize struggling New Yorkers and fully invest in our communities. Yet, instead of utilizing this crucial moment with much needed investments in housing, child care, education, healthcare, climate justice and more, our Governor insisted on handing out corporate welfare to billionaires and prioritizing her personal interests.
This budget also failed to transform and overhaul our system of ethics and oversight. In the wake of one of the state's largest ethical crises, we had the opportunity to establish a new and truly independent ethics body that can finally turn the page on endemic corruption in government. Instead, the new ethics entity created – the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government– fails to correct the structural shortcomings of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) by allowing political leaders to directly appoint members to the commission tasked with overseeing them. Our system of ethics remains weak, and we will only continue to encounter the same issues that we faced with JCOPE until these flaws are addressed.
The state budget consists of the people’s money, and as elected officials, it is our responsibility to utilize public funds in a manner that is beneficial to the greatest number of New Yorkers. Unfortunately, this budget falls short in providing meaningful investments in addressing our climate crisis, fails to provide transformative investment needed for SUNY and CUNY, shortchanges home health care workers, and yet again fails to establish the Housing Voucher Access Program. The budget also excludes undocumented New Yorkers from vital child care programs and falls short of guaranteeing health coverage for all. Instead, Governor Hochul introduced harmful criminal justice rollbacks during the eleventh hour of the budget process, without giving the Legislature adequate time for deliberation and instead insisted on handing out corporate welfare to the 5th highest paid owner in the NFL. The purpose of the State Budget is to invest in the future of our state — not to introduce policy or advance political agendas rooted in misinformation and fear mongering. The best way to guarantee safety and wellness in our communities is by investing in them. Unfortunately, we missed several opportunities in this budget to make those investments.
I do want to acknowledge that despite the shortcomings, we have made progress with this budget. We are making historic investments to expand access to child care and provide needed support to child care providers. We are improving access to the polls by instituting polling sites on college campuses and providing paid postage absentee ballots. While I am extremely proud of these gains to our state, I know that we can and should do more. Some of the most notable victories within the budget include:
- EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ERAP): $800 million in state funds to support low and moderate-income households at risk of housing instability.
- HOME CARE WORKERS: Increase in home care worker wages, securing an increase of $3 per hour over two years. Although our home healthcare aides deserve more, this is a great start in securing a livable wage for these essential workers.
- CLIMATE: $1.2 billion for the landmark Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, bringing the total investment to $4.2 billion.
- ALCOHOL TO-GO: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages for take-out or delivery with the purchase of food.
- CHILD CARE: An investment of $7 billion over 4 years in child care services. The Budget also increases the income eligibility threshold for child care subsidies to 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($83,250 for a family of four) and expands access to high quality child care by increasing the child care market rate to include 80 percent of providers.
- DISTRESSED HOSPITALS: $1.1 billion for hospitals still experiencing financial distress from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- GUN VIOLENCE: $227 million to fund bold initiatives that will strengthen the gun violence prevention efforts of law enforcement and community-based organizations.
- SCHOOL AID: $31.5 billion in total School Aid for School Year 2023, the highest level of State aid ever.
- GAS TAX HOLIDAY: Suspension of the state sales tax imposed on fuel from June through December 2022.
- PUBLIC PROTECTION: $110 million to public protection agencies to support the following programs; gun violence prevention, legal aid services, pretrial services, alternatives to incarceration, and discovery reform.
- TAP-INCARCERATED: $5 million in TAP funding for incarcerated individuals.
- HOUSING: $250 million to eliminate COVID-era residential utility arrears and $125 million in homeowner and landlord assistance.
While this budget represents missed opportunities and prioritized interests, we have until the end of session to invest in our communities and live up to our values. I am committed to continuing to fight to provide New Yorkers with the long-term investments they deserve.
For a detailed breakdown of what is included in the 2022-2023 New York State Budget, click here. If you have any questions regarding the budget and how it may impact you or your community, please reach out to our office. You can reach us at email@example.com or by calling the office at 718-822-2049.
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi