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New York State has a budget: What are major changes? What has reaction been?

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State leaders have reached a final budget agreement after a month-long negotiation process, which included contentious debates on issues such as housing, climate goals, and illegal marijuana sales. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie praised the budget, stating it might be the best non-pandemic budget he has seen during his 23 years in the Assembly, despite some compromises.

Negotiations began in mid-March and extended past the April 1st deadline, with changes to the state’s bail laws and housing disputes causing delays. The final budget addresses climate change and illegal marijuana sales, although some details were left unresolved.

Regarding marijuana sales, Democratic State Senator Liz Krueger emphasized that the focus should be on civil law categories rather than criminal law. The state will now have the power to seize illegally sold marijuana, shut down shops, and impose significant fines.

To tackle climate change, the budget introduces a framework for a cap and invest program, which collects funds from polluting companies. Governor Hochul explained that this new language allows for rebates to be available to New Yorkers, offsetting higher costs to consumers and businesses as the state transitions to renewable energies.

Here’s how some local lawmakers and regional groups have responded to the state budget:

“New York State taxpayers today and long into the future now face having to go on trying to afford, and trying to live and work under, one of the most bloated governmental budgets in the world. The bottom line on this budget is that it’s not affordable. To afford it, Governor Hochul and the Democrat majorities in the Legislature will keep on squeezing every penny they possibly can from state and local taxpayers through higher taxes, passing the buck to localities, more borrowing, raiding reserve funds, increasing fees, and every other anti-taxpayer, anti-business, anti-economic opportunity, and anti-economic growth action that’s contained in this new budget and will be the cornerstone of state budgets for a long time to come under one-party, all-Democrat control. New York State will remain the nation’s leader in irresponsible, irrational, and unsustainable spending that will overburden and make this state even more unaffordable for taxpayers, families, workers, small businesses, manufacturers, farmers, and every segment of our local economies.”

Sen. Tom O’Mara (R-Steuben County)

“This budget spends too much, provides no relief for taxpayers, and no help for small businesses and farms struggling with higher costs. It plans to withhold funds from our local governments, risking even higher property taxes. It does nothing to fix bail and ensure public safety. And the future ban on natural gas hookups will especially hurt our rural residents and increase housing costs. In a $229 Billion budget, there are some good things. And some priorities we fought for are included. But as one headline read: Nobody’s happy about it. The budget was late and the vote was rushed. And my constituents deserve better than that.”

Sen. Pam Helming (R-Ontario County)

“Governor Hochul and elected leaders have been discussing for months their desire to make New York more affordable. That seems to be nothing more than a convenient talking point since they’ve passed a budget that did the exact opposite. This budget makes energy, construction, housing, and the overall cost of living dramatically more expensive. There was a focused effort on energy and accessing renewable power. We agree that we need to focus on renewable alternatives. However, every project will now be subject to prevailing wage, which increases construction costs for taxpayers by 20-25%, and Project Labor Agreements, which limits the workforce to less than 30% of construction workers. How does the state expect to complete these projects on time and within budget when they are sidelining 70% of construction workers in New York? Why does it think private power producers are going to build projects in New York over other states that don’t force them to eat higher wages and benefits and slow walk the approval process? The Governor and our elected officials talked about addressing the affordability and housing crisis by building 800,000 new affordable units. Yet this went unaddressed in the budget. They said they’ll deal with it post-budget. Yet, in this budget, they’ve actually made housing more expensive by passing the All-Electric Buildings. Combine that with higher mortgage rates, building material costs, inflation, we have an even worse crisis on our hands than before this budget passed. Explain to New Yorkers how this budget addressed the affordability crisis in New York. We don’t see it. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone anymore why people continue to flee New York in record numbers. They aren’t escaping the weather. They’re escaping the unaddressed affordability crisis that leaders in Albany continue to make worse by passing bad policies like those contained in this final budget deal. New Yorkers deserve better.”

– Associated Builders & Contractors, Empire State Chapter President Brian Sampson

“I am outraged by this year’s state budget. Taxes and crime are out of control, and this bloated budget will do nothing constructive to remedy this problem. New Yorkers do not feel safe—judges are given too little discretion and are unable to do their jobs properly, and in addition, law enforcement and district attorney offices are underfunded. New Yorkers do not feel financially secure—rising taxes and a cost of living that no one can feasibly live off of has landed New York families in hot water. This is ridiculous and should not be tolerated in future budgets.”

– Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan (R-Ontario County)