Hochul Proposes $227 Billion State Budget

By Matis Glenn

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced her proposed $227 billion state budget Wednesday, reports Spectrum News.

If passed, it would be the largest budget in the state’s history, up 5 percent from 2022.

Hochul discussed spending in education, public safety, housing, and health care, with a billion dollars being directed specifically to addressing mental health. Of that billion, $10 million would go to funding mental health programs in schools.

Housing would get a boost as well, with the state building 800,000 new units, including those already in development. If a community isn’t reaching its target, the state would be able to overrule local zoning boards’ refusal to approve construction. New units would need to ditch gas stoves, but preexisting homes can continue to use and buy new ones.

“The bottom line is more housing will be built. We increase housing stock and prices go down,” Hochul said.

Another $890 million would go towards creating over 2,000 permanent residences for people struggling with mental health issues.

While Hochul said she would not raise income taxes, even on the wealthy, and acknowledged that “New Yorkers already believe they pay too much,” she plans on raising the payroll tax – which is split between employers and employees. This would more significantly impact Downstate residents, to cover public transportation costs.

Speaking of transit, Hochul also announced a plan to install speed cameras in MTA bridges and tunnels.

Tax breaks were discussed – but only for people in showbusiness.

While Hochul was tasked with proposing her plans for a state budget, both houses of the state legislature will put forth their proposals as well, and spend two months negotiating with one another. By April 1, a final budget will be passed.

Included in the budget is a clause which will end the need for judges to exercise the “least restrictive” means of dealing with arrested suspects in certain serious crimes – a departure from the controversial 2019 bail reform laws.

Eighty million dollars would be spent on the renovation of a state emergency operations center and $100 million would be used to create a new forensic laboratory.

In what will most likely lead to a heated opposition from the state’s teachers unions, Hochul said that she wants to eliminate the regional cap on charter schools in New York City, promote the re-opening of closed charters, and increase per-student funding by 4.5 percent.

A whopping $7.6 billion increase over the next four years in child care funding was proposed as well, with parents who are on government assistance instantly qualifying.

Another billion would be devoted to migrants who have arrived in New York from Latin America.

Government-funded Medicaid would provide an additional 5 percent to pay for hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

Funding to fight hate crimes would nearly double compared to last year, as Hochul aims to spend $35 million, compared to $16 million in 2022.

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