In a wide-ranging conversation with Capital Tonight on Friday, New York state Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger discussed health care, raising revenue, housing and the new congressional maps approved Thursday by the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). 

According to Krueger, the full Senate Democratic conference has yet to review the maps, but she wasn’t impressed by what she saw.

“I haven’t really looked at the maps completely yet, but it looks like they’re pretty much the maps that same one Republican judge from upstate New York with a temporary assignment and a few thousand people in his district decided to draw for us,” Krueger said. “I didn’t like those maps then. I thought we would be getting different maps and it appears we didn’t really get different maps. So, I can certainly see an argument for the Legislature rejecting these.”

If the Legislature rejects the maps, it will need to create replacement maps during a very compressed timetable. Under the current election schedule, ballot petitioning begins on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The earliest the Legislature could take action on the maps is Monday, Feb. 26 because neither house will be in Albany next week.

On the budget, Krueger, who presided along with her Assembly counterpart over 14 of the 16 budget hearings, said that the biggest conflicts she heard were around health care staffing, the dispersal of health care dollars and hospitals.

“We still have a situation where we have hospitals that we call distressed or safety net, on the verge of closing down in areas where we can’t afford to lose hospitals,” she said. “We have other hospitals who seem to have massive growth planned and it’s not clear that they ought to continue with the same model of funding they’ve been receiving.”

Krueger also noted that the resource and staff retention problems that, for years, have plagued nursing homes and institutions that serve people with disabilities, continue. 

Because New York’s Medicaid budget has grown 11% over the last year alone to a total $35 billion, Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing for cuts to the program. 

When Krueger was asked about the governor’s staunch position against raising taxes, she said she understands: No one wants to raise taxes, but pointed to certain revenue raisers including her own Climate Change Superfund Act that would raise money by creating a fund paid for by polluters (Senate Bill S2129A).

“It’s a win-win for the state of New York,” Krueger said of her bill. “I don’t understand why we won’t just pull support together. And with all due respect to the commissioners who I like very much, Doreen Harris (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and Basil Seggos (DEC), neither of them would actually say why [Hochul] won’t support the bill.”

According to Krueger, she doesn’t believe the costs of "Cap-and-Invest" and her Climate Change Superfund Act would be borne by the same interests. 

“They should be complementary in both being able to bring in more revenue to the state. Of course, we’re still waiting on the final proposal for Cap-and-Invest,” Krueger said.

More on the emerging Cap-and-Invest program here.

On housing, when asked if she continues to oppose a replacement for the 421a tax abatement for New York City property developers, Krueger said yes. 

“I continue to take the position we have no business using taxpayers’ money to build luxury housing,” she told Capital Tonight. “City of New York, it’s your property tax money. Tell us how much you’re willing to give up. How much can you afford to give up? Put that on the table, and then let’s work backwards from there. How many really affordable units can we get through various proposals, and let’s go with the best one. Right now, nobody wants to put the numbers on the table, and you need to talk numbers.”