ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Gov. Kathy Hochul said a “conceptual agreement” has been reached on the fiscal year 2024 New York state budget. The budget is roughly $229 billion.
Key components of the budget include public safety, improving the mental health system, healthcare, strengthening abortion rights, education, child care, housing, investing in the MTA, and energy and climate.
“I have always said that every New Yorker deserves to live in a community that is safe and peaceful, and I have been laser focused on making that dream become a reality.”
Hochul announced adjustments will be made to the state’s current bail laws. The governor said judges will have more authority to set bail and detain dangerous defendants. The agreement that has been reached removes the least restrictive means standard and gives judges discretion to hold violent criminals accountable.
The budget also includes $40 million for public defenders to retain staff and enhance their services. Assigned attorneys will receive a pay increase for the first time in two decades.
The state plans to invest in violence prevention, including $36 million to Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE), increasing stabilization units for the New York State Police, and $40 million to district attorneys.
“When it comes to keeping people safe, there are common sense places we can start as well. One of them has to do with fixing our mental health system because it is broken.”
Over $1 billion is being allocated in the budget to make policy changes for mental health. This includes investments to create 1,000 in-patient psychiatric beds that can serve more than 10,000 New Yorkers each year. $60 million will go toward capital and $122 million in out-patient services. Money is also being allocated for 3,500 units in supportive housing, and the budget states it will prohibit insurance companies from denying access to critical mental health services.
Hochul also said $30 million is going toward children’s mental health with the goal of cutting the demand for services in half over the next five years.
Hochul said New York is expanding Medicaid access with a $100 million investment in preventative and primary care. The largest Medicaid increase in two decades by investing in hospitals and nursing homes. An additional $500 million will go to hospitals to ensure they can provide care.
“This is New York, the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement, and as long as I am governor, this will continue to be a place that is a sanctuary to protect women’s rights, and abortion will be safe, accessible, and legal.”
The state will dedicate $100 million in new funding to protect reproductive healthcare. Two new pieces of legislation will increase access to abortion care for students at public universities and protect access to over-the-counter contraception at state pharmacies. The bills have already been passed in the state legislature. Hochul said she will be signing them in the coming days.
“The key to our kids’ future is a high quality education.”
The state budget includes $34.5 billion for education, the largest investment for schools in state history, which includes $2.6 billion in foundation aid. $134 million is being allocated for free breakfast and lunch for low-income populations regardless of their family’s income.
The state will also be increasing the number of charter schools, and $20 million will go toward P-Tech programs to help students earn college credits while still in high school.
For higher education, $2.4 billion will be allocated for capital projects and $381 million is for capital support for SUNY and CUNY schools.
“On behalf of all the parents, this one’s for you.”
Child care assistance is expanding eligibility, raising the income limit, lowering the amount parents will have to pay for child care, and expanding the childcare tax credit to include children under 4 years of age.
To help with affordability, the state plans to increase the minimum wage in 2024 to $16 an hour in New York City, Long Island and Westchester, and $15 an hour in the rest of the state. It will then increase by 50 cents in 2025 and 2026. Beginning in 2027, the minimum wage will increase annually according to the Consumer Price Index.
$391 million is going toward additional funding to expand the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to make rent relief available for public and subsidized housing. $50 million is being allocated for low income families to use toward home repairs.
The state is also focused on removing lead from homes. Hochul said rental units that were built before 1980 will need to be inspected for lead every three years, and if property owners fail to remove the lead, they will lose their certificate of occupancy.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
Hochul said services will not be cut. Through an increase in the payroll mobility tax for the city’s largest businesses, over $1.1 billion will be provided for the MTA. New York City will increase its contribution to paratransit services and support the MTA with an additional $165 million each year. The MTA will implement a $450 million plan to make operations more efficient.
A two-year pilot program in NYC will also offer free bus service on five different lines in each borough.
Energy and Climate
The state will invest $400 million for immediate utility relief to provide low income households with resources to upgrade their appliances, insulation and heating systems. Hochul announced $500 million will go toward building clean water infrastructure, and $400 million will be used to preserve open space and advance conservation. New York is also aiming for zero emission new homes and buildings, starting in 2025 for small buildings and 2028 for large buildings.
The budget was due on April 1, but negotiations were ongoing between the governor and the legislature. The governor has signed five budget extenders to ensure state employees are paid and state operations continue.
Democrats found a lot to like in the budget while republicans said they wanted to slow down the process and take a moment to see what’s actually in the budget. After the governor’s announcement, New York Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay released a statement, saying, “Some things are worth waiting for – but not what we heard tonight. A $229 billion spending plan is excessive. The Governor offered a preview, but the real details that matter won’t be known until there’s a finished product. This entire process is disappointing and dysfunctional.”
The next step in the budget process is for the bills to be printed, so that state lawmakers can vote on them. The governor’s announcement can be watched in-full in the video player above.