Taxes and spending

“Governor Hochul proposed new spending in the coming years in dozens of areas, including $25 billion on housing and $10 billion on the health care workforce. We’ll have to wait for the budget to get a complete price tag, but absent significant spending cuts these increases would prevent the state from replenishing its financial reserves,” said Peter Warren, director of research at the Empire Center. “The scope of this new spending dwarfs proposed tax relief, which includes a $1.2 billion acceleration of the already-enacted 2018 middle class tax cuts, a $1 billion property tax rebate, a $100 million tax cut for small businesses, and tax credits for agriculture.

“Extending Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) aid to part-time students, as the governor proposes, would be a more targeted way of spending taxpayer dollars, however, this should only be done with offsets by revoking the Excelsior Scholarship program, which excludes part-time students.”

Reducing Regulation

“Governor Hochul’s promise to propose legislation entering New York into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and the Nurse Licensure Compact is a great step to reduce barriers for physicians and nurses to relocate and practice in New York,” said Cam Macdonald, adjunct fellow at the Empire Center. “Looking past the current staffing crisis, reducing licensing barriers could provide increased access to qualified health care professionals in underserved communities and make it easier for New York-based physicians to practice across state lines, including via telemedicine.

“Governor Hochul’s proposal to maximize scope of practice for nurse practitioners is a no-brainer. While temporary emergency orders provided nurse practitioners flexibility to provide their services in a time of critical need, in the long-term maximizing scope of practice can benefit New York’s rural and underserved communities by providing greater access to care.

“Permitting to-go drink sales was a lifeline to restaurants and bars during the pandemic. The Legislature should have never let that permission expire, and it’s good to see Governor Hochul wants to make it permanent. Restaurants and bars should have access to as many revenue streams as possible to regain and maintain their financial footing as they recover from the Covid pandemic—plus, it’s popular with New Yorkers.”

Addressing the pandemic

“For all the money and attention Governor Hochul devoted to the health care system, she disappointingly failed to address the part of that system that ought to be the highest priority at this moment in history: pandemic defense,” said Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the Empire Center. “The coronavirus exposed critical weaknesses in the state’s public health system that allowed the threat to go undetected for weeks and contributed to a delayed and disorganized response – shortcomings that likely cost tens of thousands of lives.

“Yet her speech made almost no mention of this crucial state government function, other than to highlight a pre-existing plan to build a new physical plant for the Health Department’s Wadsworth Laboratories.

“If New York is to be better prepared for future outbreaks, there can be no higher priority than investigating and fixing the public health breakdowns of last spring – preferably through a commission of independent experts.

“Her speech promised to bring a ‘public health’ approach to the opioid crisis and gun violence. What about a public health response to the worst pandemic of the past century?”

Spending on health-care workers

“Hospitals and many other health-care providers are large money-making businesses with multiple sources of revenue. Taxpayers should not be the first resort for balancing their budgets or financing their labor contracts,” said Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the Empire Center.

“Any increases in state funding earmarked for pay and benefits should be targeted to providers that are entirely or predominantly dependent on Medicaid for revenue – and be coupled with efforts to control overuse and waste elsewhere in the system.

“Although some providers are struggling with labor shortages, the same is true of many employers in the current economy. Since New York currently employs 28 percent more health-care workers per 1,000 residents than the national average, the governor’s goal of increasing their ranks by another 20 percent does not seem to be warranted – especially given that the state’s population is stagnant or declining.”

Energy & Climate

“In her greatest miss on energy and climate policy, Governor Hochul did not address the technical challenges of achieving the radically short timelines set forth in the Climate Act, nor did she address the costs to ratepayers of shifting to renewable energy sources. At every opportunity so far, state officials have dodged the issue of whether homeowners and businesses will be able to afford the green energy bill,” said James Hanley, senior policy analyst at the Empire Center.

“Hochul’s big energy gamble is an unspecified amount of investment in experimental research in green hydrogen energy. Hydrogen may be critical to supplying the 15 to 25 gigawatt shortfall in energy production predicted by 2040, but the technology is unproven. If this gamble does not pay off, New York may find itself desperately short on its energy needs in less than 20 years.”

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.

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