Albany, NY — After Governor Hochul’s budget unveiling this afternoon, Empire Center experts offered their reactions to the latest framework.
Tim Hoefer, President and CEO
“In our Next New York policy guide, we pointed out that Albany’s supercharged post-pandemic spending trend is unsustainable, and Governor Hochul’s budget presentation today only underscores the point. Projected spending increases over the three years beyond fiscal 2024 would lead to projected budget gaps of $22 billion—$3 billion more than the state currently holds in its largest-ever reserves. Yet, instead of reining in spending, the governor calls for more of the same, led by record increases in school aid and state-funded Medicaid spending. The net result will be to push New York further down the road to even higher taxes.”
Bill Hammond, Senior Fellow for Health Policy
“In the state that already spends more per capita on Medicaid than any other, Governor Hochul is proposing to allow costs to jump another 9 percent in the year ahead – even as she projects enrollment will decline by almost 1 million.
“Instead of offering a plan to control spending and reduce bloat, she is taking her foot off the brake – and steering this crucial program toward a crash when, as expected, the economy turns sour.
“She is also increasing the program’s burden on local taxpayers, undermining a freeze that was one of the most important Medicaid reforms of the past decade.
“Sadly, the governor is also extending $5.1 billion in state taxes on health insurance, which are one reason why New Yorkers and their employers pay some of the highest premiums in the contiguous United States.”
James Hanley, Fellow
“Climate activists who last year demanded, but didn’t get, $15 billion in funding for the CLCPA may be disappointed that Governor Hochul again proposes little direct spending on climate goals.
“More money will eventually come from the proposed cap-and-invest program, to be designed by the Department of Environmental Conservation, but it will not come this year. Nor does the governor’s budget attempt to estimate how much the program will raise in future years.
“The language for the cap-and-invest program is, however, a master class in wishful thinking. Despite raising business costs, it will somehow be a job creator; and although its primary purpose is to reduce CO2 emissions, it will somehow ‘prioritize’ affordability. In implicit recognition of its negative effects on business, it will give away emissions allowances to emissions-intensive and trade-exposed firms, yet somehow it will still raise enough money from auctions of the remaining emissions allowances both to assist low-income ratepayers with energy affordability and apparently be the primary funding source for CLCPA goals.”
Emily D’Vertola, Education Policy Analyst
“The governor’s proposal to allow more charter schools in New York, which borrows from the Empire Center’s recommendations, is a big win for students and families. It will allow up to 85 more charter schools to open in the city, potentially serving tens of thousands of students.
“Looking at the bigger picture, however, the proposed budget focuses more on money than outcomes. If approved, school aid will have 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.”
Ken Girardin, Fellow
“There is no defensible reason for continuing, let alone expanding, the state’s subsidies for film and television producers. The state’s own auditors have shown that taxpayers lose money on the deal. The Legislature needs to stop this horror film for taxpayers instead of ordering up a sequel.”
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.