Some State Budget Highlights
Brad Hoylman's a busy guy. Makes you wonder what his next political move will be. That there will be one is certain.
Below is a press release from State Senator Brad Hoylman:
Here are some highlights on the $153 billion state budget for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year, which passed the Senate late last evening.
Given what we’ve come to expect from Albany, it’s probably not a surprise that New York desperately needs to reform its budget process. Budget bills are considered in the Senate with little or no time for legislators – or the public – to read them (on one bill as pictured above, I was given 13 minutes to read 961 pages!). This byzantine, opaque process results in bad public policy, as I describe below. That said, there were also some victories for New Yorkers in which we can all take pride, thanks to Governor Cuomo and our efforts among my Democratic colleagues in the Assembly and Senate. Here’s my rundown:
- Raise the Age: The budget raises the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years. Until now, New York was one of just two states (the other being North Carolina) that treated 16- and 17-year olds the same as adults, which studies show leads to recidivism and other poor outcomes. Now, most proceedings involving 16- and 17-year olds will be handled in Family Court.
- Public Schools: Public schools across the state will receive an additional $700 million in support, representing a 4.25% increase over last year (although much more money is due our city schools pursuant to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit). The budget also keeps in place the charter school cap, meaning public education dollars won’t be siphoned off further to support up to 100 new charter schools.
- Safe Drinking Water: The budget includes $2.5 billion allocated for water infrastructure across the state. Following the water crisis in Hoosick Falls, I've been an outspoken advocate for improved water quality and accountability by corporate polluters. You can view my remarks on the floor here.
- Environment: The budget maintains last year’s historic increase to the Environmental Protection Fund – our state’s primary source of capital funding for environmental projects – at $300 million.
- Protecting Seniors: The budget staved off a proposal that would have removed $27 million in Title XX funds from our senior centers, thereby averting disaster and the potential closure of 62 NYC senior centers. The budget also includes $2 million for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) like Penn South.
- No Ethics Reform, Again: Will Albany ever learn? Not yet apparently, even with a new indictment of a Republican State Senator being handed out two weeks ago. The budget once again fails to include any ethics, campaign finance or voting reforms, despite a long list of proposals from the Governor including closing the notorious “LLC loophole," instituting early voting and addressing the issue of outside income. You can view my remarks on the floor on this issue here.
- Eliminating a Memorial to Orlando: I was shocked to see the Senate removed the Governor's budget proposal to include $1 million for the creation of a memorial in our Senate district to memorialize the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL. This action speaks to a deeper pattern of intolerance for LGBT issues by the Senate Republicans. As a result, I introduced an amendment to reinstate this funding, which ended up being blocked. You can view a video here.
- Tax Break for Developers: The budget reinstates the former 421-a real estate tax abatement program, a program that will cost NYC taxpayers over $2 billion a year, without so much as a public hearing. I spoke on the floor about my concerns with this program and how decoupling its renewal from renewal of the rent laws could spell trouble for tenants. View my remarks here.
- Delay of Diesel Clean-up: I’m disappointed at the Senate's continued delay of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), which would require state vehicles to comply with clean air standards. My comments from the floor are available here.
- Failing to Protect Kids in Public Schools: The Senate Majority stripped a proposal from the Governor’s budget proposal that would include public schools in New York State’s Human Rights Law. I strenuously objected to my Republican colleague's assessment that the proposal would "cost too much." You can view a clip of my remarks here.
- Stripping E-Cigarette Regulations: The Governor’s executive budget proposed regulating e-cigarettes the same as traditional cigarettes to improve public health. At the last minute, these regulations were pulled from the budget with no public discussion or explanation given by the Senate. Sadly, this is representative of what's wrong with Albany.
To review the 2017-2018 budget in its entirety, click here.