Albany, NY — After the official release of the New York state budget, the experts at the Empire Center provided the following insight.
From Ken Girardin, Fellow:
“Governor Hochul’s budget division has already indicated state expenses will outpace revenues by more than $20 billion over the next three years. Hiking spending more than $2 billion above the governor’s February proposal, and drawing from the state’s fund balance to cover part of it, will increase those budget gaps and leave New York with less ability to manage them, especially in an economic downturn.”
From Bill Hammond, Senior Fellow for Health Policy:
“New York’s already high Medicaid spending has skyrocketed by more than one-third over the past four years — and this budget deal promises more of that unsustainable trend. Instead of focusing on the best interests of vulnerable New Yorkers, the state’s leaders are managing this critical program based on manufactured crises and misinformation campaigns.
“This budget reduces a wage supplement paid to all downstate home health aides to finance richer benefits for a relative few — and to bail out a money-losing insurance fund operated by the union 1199 SEIU. Lawmakers are voting to put the needs of an influential union ahead of the best interests of rank-and-file workers.”
Energy & Environment
From James Hanley, Fellow:
“New York’s environmental activists scored two significant wins in the state’s 2023 budget. The most significant gain was a version of the All-Electric Buildings Act, which will ban gas hookups in most new buildings. But activists did not get the more immediate time frame they were seeking, so the ban will take effect for buildings under 7 stories in 2026 and taller buildings in 2029. While still a law that denies consumers’ choice, the compromise at least gives developers time to adjust to the new rules.
“Governor Hochul also gave in on the Build Public Renewables Act. She had proposed a more limited proposal that would allow the New York Power Authority seek out and make deals for more renewable energy, but ended up shaking hands on a deal that would force the Authority to retire its fossil fuel plants by 2030, a scant seven years away. Such a short time-frame exacerbates the risk of downstate electricity shortages.
“Notably absent was agreement on a cap-and-invest program for greenhouse gas emissions, a battle that will continue through the legislative session as the Governor seeks to change the Climate Act’s method for greenhouse gas accounting to reduce the cost of the policy.”
From Emily D’Vertola, Education Analyst:
“This year’s executive budget will boost state aid to a historic level: more than $34 billion.
“What is the return on this investment? School aid has risen 76 percent since 2012 — while public school enrollment has fallen more than 5 percent during the same period. Put another way, the state will be spending about $9 billion more, on a smaller number of students, than it would have if school aid had simply kept pace with inflation. Meanwhile, student achievement is declining on both state and national measures. New York ranks below the national public average score in 4th grade reading and math and has hardly managed to reach a 50% proficient rate on our own state assessments.
“Albany’s decision to continue capping the number of charter schools ignores the wishes of families who want more choice as other states are creating more pathways for families to choose the school that works best for their students.”
Use of Messages of Necessity
From Kyle Davis, Director Of Public Affairs:
“It has been four days since a conceptual budget deal was announced, but only a few hours since the budget language was made public. This is not enough time to understand the details in a spending plan that allocates nearly $230 billion. Rushing to pass an already-late budget with messages of necessity prevents the public—and many legislators—from reviewing it before it becomes law.”
The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.