Legislators set state budget priorities

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State lawmakers are expected to propose billions of dollars in spending this week to support struggling New Yorkers, including aid tenants, by making homeownership more affordable and improving access higher education and child care services.

Budget resolutions proposed by the Democratic-led Senate and State Assembly provide roadmaps for lawmakers, setting public markers for the position they take with Governor Kathy Hochul.

The budget should be voted by the end of the month.

Housing needs

In state Assembly, Democrats seek replenishment of emergency rent assistance program with $1.25 billion to provide support to struggling tenants after ban expires this year evictions for people facing financial hardship related to the pandemic. The budget plan also includes $400 million for the landlord rental assistance program.

Lawmakers are also seeking $500 million that would help people behind on their utility bills.

The Assembly is also seeking $250 million to create a housing voucher program to provide housing assistance to people at risk of homelessness.

And the budget resolution supports the creation of a new five-year housing plan every five years. That would add $1.7 billion to the governor’s original proposal, reaching $6.2 billion in spending.

An additional $15 million would be added to the Owner Protection Program, rising to $35 million if approved.

“Too many of our families across our state struggled with homelessness and had access to affordable housing before the pandemic,” said Speaker Carl Heastie. “This budget builds on the work being done during the pandemic to keep New Yorkers in their homes, while creating and investing in programs that will give more families access to safe and affordable housing.”

Lawmakers also want $48.8 million for the State University of New York and $59.6 million for the City University of New York to close the so-called void in the college program. tuition assistance. Both systems would receive over $1.6 billion in expansion capital expenditures.

Support for higher education

The budget resolution also provides a $60 million increase for SUNY and CUNY community colleges to meet a legal requirement to have 40% of state support for community college aid.

Democrats in both houses are expected to seek billions of dollars in additional aid for child care programs.

Progressive lawmakers like State Senator Jabari Brisport have called for a universal child care program. He asked for $5 billion.

“With the support of my colleagues, I know we are going to see a drastic expansion,” he said.

To pay for the expenses, New York was inundated with federal aid and tax revenues from rate hikes on high earners. New York is expected to have multi-billion surpluses over the next few years.

Global uncertainty

But there are potential hurdles facing the legislature and the Hochul as the budget remains under negotiation.

Gas and fuel prices are at historic highs, inflation has driven up the cost of many consumer goods, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has added to global economic uncertainty.

There have been bipartisan calls for the Legislative Assembly and the governor to address increases in the price of gasoline, either by suspending or capping the taxes that New Yorkers pay at the pump.

Hochul told reporters last week that she was not yet adjusting her own $216 billion spending plan proposed in January, but pointed to proposals to set aside money in the reserve fund. the state to protect itself against a possible recession. So far, she has yet to embrace calls to cut the state’s gasoline tax per gallon.

State Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have called for tax and spending restraint. Last week, GOP lawmakers called for property tax relief as well as cost cuts for small businesses while bolstering support for manufacturing.

Republicans have blamed Democratic control of Albany for the problems facing the state.

“After witnessing a corrupt former governor engulfed in scandals during a pandemic, enduring authoritarian mandates affecting people’s daily lives, and now struggling to pay for fuel and essential groceries, the people of this state enough,” said Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt. “It is our duty to provide financial aid responsibly. Our Take Back New York program contains common sense proposals that will restore our economy and people’s trust in government.”

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