While over a month late, New York State legislators passed a $229 billion state budget that avoids broad-based increases in the personal income tax, boosts education aid by more than $34 billion and sets in motion a minimum wage increase. The final budget grew 3.9% over last year’s spending.
The delay was largely due to negotiated changes to the 2019 law that limited circumstances in which bail could be required. The Governor was able to win those changes to expand bail consideration for judges, but she failed to reach an agreement on her other budget priority, a wide-ranging housing plan.
Highlights of the newly enacted budget include:
- An agreement to boost school meal spending by $134 million with a record increase in direct aid to school districts. The budget also allows for 14 charter schools in New York City;
- A raise in a mobility tax to help bolster mass transit in the New York City metropolitan area;
- An increase in the New York City cigarette tax by $1 to $5.35 after lawmakers rejected Governor Hochul’s proposal to ban menthol cigarettes;
- Proposals to address climate change as the state works toward the goal of sharply reducing emissions by the middle of the century. Gas hookups in new buildings and homes in the coming years will be prohibited;
- An increase in aid for capital costs at both SUNY and CUNY;
- An appropriation of $100.7 million to protect abortion access; and,
- A $1 billion investment to transform New York’s continuum of mental health.
While passage of the state budget was a major accomplishment, there is still much work that needs to be done. The Legislature is scheduled to finish its deliberations in mid-June.