Takeaways from New York Gov. Hochul’s state budget plan

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Gov. Hochul on Tuesday outlined her proposal for the next state budget, offering more detail on initiatives she centered in her State of the State speech last week, and putting a striking price tag on state funding for the migrant crisis.

Hochul offered $2.4 billion in New York State support for the city’s asylum seeker efforts in her $233 billion budget proposal, which is only the beginning of a long road of talks with the state Legislature.

The migrant outlay would include about $500 million drawn from the state’s record rainy day reserves, which have ballooned to nearly $20 billion.

Hochul said she would rigidly oppose any hikes to New York taxes, rejecting calls from progressives who want the state to spend more aggressively.

The budget plan sets up some points of possible conflict with the left-leaning Legislature. But Hochul did not bring lightning rod policy proposals into her budget plans, steering clear of the bruising bail reform and housing battles that animated last year’s legislative session.

Her approach, in a crucial election year when New York Democrats may seek to avoid intraparty party fights, could point toward a less-than-dramatic winter in Albany.

Hochul and lawmakers have an April 1 deadline to pass a budget for the fiscal year. Here are five takeaways from Hochul’s budget proposal announcement.

Major money for migrants

The $2.4 billion migrant assistance proposal would represent a significant show of support for New York City, which is struggling to shelter some 70,000 asylum seekers. Mayor Adams has long pressed for added state help, proclaiming the city is out of room to house migrants.

In the summer, Hochul suggested she was aiming to include at least $1 billion for the city in her next budget.

By Tuesday, Hochul had lifted that number to $2.4 billion — an infusion that would be layered on top of $1.9 billion in migrant support in the current budget total, for a grand total of $4.3 billion over two years.

The city has projected its total migrant costs could hit $10 billion by summer 2025, down from $12 billion.

Hochul characterized the $500 million pot drawn from state reserves as a one-off expenditure, and said she would travel to Washington, D.C. on Friday to appeal for the federal government to slow the flow of arrivals.

Restrained spending, but no austerity budget

Hochul’s budget is a starting point for legislators who are expected to seek to push spending up.

And in some areas — including school aid, which would grow by 2.4% under the plan — the governor did not propose increasing state spending as aggressively in past years.

Still, her presentation hardly amounted to an austerity budget, and the governor was not in the position of outlining any deep, painful cuts.

Hochul said she had drawn up a “solid, balanced budget without cuts or added burdens.”

Places for common ground with GOP

Hochul, a moderate Democrat, drew a bit of praise from the other side of the aisle after her budget remarks.

The Assembly’s Republican minority leader, Will Barclay, told reporters he was “pleased” about some of the issues — including crime and affordability — that Hochul centered on Tuesday and in her State of the State speech last week.

And though he made clear he did not think the state should spend its reserves on migrant care, he expressed approval at Hochul’s calls for a tougher border.

Republicans may spend coming months agitating against migrant expenditures. Still, Barclay’s tone hinted at the possibility of cross-party collaboration in Albany this winter.

“She ought to have me in the budget negotiations,” Barclay said, referring to Hochul’s disagreements with progressives. “She’ll have an ally in there.”

Room for Democratic divides

Hochul’s housing plans — which some Democrats see as too modest and developer-friendly — and her stand on taxes could set up fights with her left flank.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, told reporters that any housing deal would need to have “something in it for developers — and tenants.”

Still, Heastie, a defender of the state’s bail reforms, seemed pleased that any efforts to erode the measures were not on the budget agenda.

“Maybe bail reform isn’t the big problem that everybody continued to think it was,” said Heastie, describing falling crime rates.

“Maybe this young man from the Bronx might have been right on something,” he added, referring to himself.

Victories for Adams

One Democrat who would not need to look far to find things to like in Hochul’s budget plan: the mayor of New York City.

Hochul not only proposed significant migrant funding, she also put her support behind a four-year extension of mayoral control of city schools.

Her budget plan also includes legislation to strengthen the city’s efforts to shutter illegal cannabis shops, another priority of the mayor.

“While we must still review the details, we appreciate the state’s continued financial support,” Adams said in a statement, referring to the migrant crisis. “We will continue to stand side by side with Governor Hochul in urging the federal government to do its job and advocating for the resources that asylum seekers and longtime New Yorkers need.”