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Home » News » New York State » Budget deal reached: Bail law changes, free school lunches, and minimum wage hike included

Budget deal reached: Bail law changes, free school lunches, and minimum wage hike included

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  • Staff Report 

Governor Kathy Hochul and New York state lawmakers have reached an agreement on a $229 billion state spending plan, nearly a month after its initial due date. The budget will introduce changes to a controversial bail law, increase direct aid to schools by billions of dollars, and maintain current personal income tax rates.

Hochul announced that the budget would raise the minimum wage to $16 an hour in New York City and $15 an hour north of Westchester County in the coming years, with subsequent adjustments based on the rate of inflation. The agreement also allows for the revival of 14 “zombie” licenses for charter schools in New York City.

The child tax credit in New York will expand for families with children under the age of 4, addressing the expiration of a similar federal program. The budget will fund the state’s system of publicly financed campaigns without delay, while also addressing the sale of illegal cannabis to support the growth of the legal market.

The budget, one of the latest spending plans to be adopted since 2010, is Hochul’s second budget since taking office in 2021 and her first since winning a full term last year. While some of the governor’s initial proposals were pared down or removed during negotiations, Hochul successfully secured changes to the state’s 2019 law limiting cash bail in criminal cases.

The budget also includes a $40 million allocation for public defenders, a pay raise for assigned attorneys providing indigent defense, and funds to combat gun violence and support the State Police. In healthcare, the budget will expand Medicaid spending for hospitals and nursing homes by increasing reimbursement rates.

New York will allocate a record-setting $34.5 billion for education, boosting direct aid to schools by over $2 billion, and providing $134 million for schools to offer free meals for students regardless of family income.

A modest increase in the mobility tax will help fund mass transit in the New York City area, with a two-year pilot program for free bus service on five lines included in the budget. Hochul described the agreement as a “conceptual framework,” with some legislators still reviewing budget specifics.