State Budget

What housing advocates want from New York officials

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Affordable housing advocates will make a sustained push in the coming weeks for a measure to make it harder for people to be evicted when rent is increased, add support for public housing and for the expiration of a tax break they argue has done little to boost affordable units in New York City.

Lawmakers are expected to return to the state Capitol on Monday for the remainder of a legislative session that concludes on June 2. The post-budget portion of the legislative session in Albany will be a short one, but potentially no less consequential as lawmakers gear up for their re-election campaigns.

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Local public health departments got boost in New York state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Local health departments in New York are set to receive nearly $26 million in funding after two years of being on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money is meant to shore up what are considered core public health services performed by local-level officials, including communicable disease control and emergency preparedness and response.

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What private colleges got in New York's state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The state's private colleges and universities have had their struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic just like their public system counterparts in New York over the last two years.

And, as Lola Brabham, the president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, said Wednesday in a Capital Tonight interview, there were benefits for their member schools in the $220 billion state budget.

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Appetite among New York lawmakers to further increase wages for home care workers

BY Tim Williams New York State

For years, advocates have been pushing New York state lawmakers in Albany to include a wage increase for home health care workers.

This year, a wage increase of $2 was included with an additional $1 increase coming in 2023. State Sen. Rachel May, chair of the Senate Aging Committee, told Capital Tonight the raise is not “insignificant,” but “it’s not what we were asking for” with legislators arguing for a larger increase.

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New York prosecutors say public safety discussions should not end with budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As the negotiators ground on between lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul over the contentious debate surrounding New York's bail law, local prosecutors were brought in to discuss their concerns.

And now with those changes to the bail laws on the books, some prosecutors hope further efforts to address public safety will be made.

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Higher education advocates call budget a mixed result for SUNY, CUNY

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state officials are getting a mixed grade from higher education advocates for a state budget that spent $500 million in added support for operations at the state's public universities and colleges.

But at the same time, the spending plan did not address increasing maximum awards for the tuition assistance program, nor did it roll back tuition costs.

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NY Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter talks budget, bail law changes, qualified immunity

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The aging Interstate 81 span that has divided the city of Syracuse both geographically and racially since the 1960s is scheduled to come down. The recently passed New York state budget includes an additional $1 billion to help remove the old viaduct and start work on what’s called the “community grid” plan to replace it.

Syracuse-area state Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter said as soon as final authorization from the federal government is received, construction will begin.

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Where is the '$7 billion in child care funding over 4 years' coming from in the New York budget?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

When asked by Capital Tonight to explain the New York state budget’s investment in child care, Dede Hill, the director of policy for the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy in Albany, wasn’t able to provide an answer.

“This should be an easy question to answer, but I’m going to have to dodge a little. We are still digging into the budget trying to discern where all the dollars are, and what exactly is in there,” she said. “What I can say is that this budget contains significant new funds for child care subsidies.”

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Hochul: New Yorkers will forgive a late budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul's first budget was a late one, but in the end, she said on Monday, it's one that puts money back into the pockets of New Yorkers.

"They don't pay attention to whether it's a couple of days late or not," Hochul said. "At the end of the day, we got it done."

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Hochul on changing New York bail law: 'We had to do something' to address rising crime

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Changes to New York's 2019 law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges and other efforts to address public safety were needed in response to increasing crime, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday said.

But Hochul, fresh off the completion of her first spending plan, said the initial bail law should not be blamed for the rise in violent crime in New York, which has also been on the rise in other parts of the country.

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Want a to-go drink? Here's how New York is defining 'substantial food'

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Sandwiches, soups and salads are substantial. A bag of chips or a bowl of nuts, not so much.

That's according to the guidance issued Monday by the State Liquor Authority to determine what a "substantial food item" is to qualify for a restaurant patron to order a drink to go along with a takeout meal.

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New York's budget will speed up tax relief for middle-income residents

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

More than 6 million middle-income taxpayers in New York are set to receive a faster tax rate reduction as part of the state budget finalized this weekend.

At the same time, the budget includes a new property tax relief credit that had been backed earlier this year by Gov. Kathy Hochul, as well as relief for small businesses.

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Exclusive: Gov. Hochul talks bail law, Buffalo Bills, Cuomo and her priorities for the rest of session

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul called the state budget, which is currently being debated and voted on by the Legislature, “transformative” and one that will “improve the lives of New Yorkers in every part of the state.”

The spending plan, which is comprised of 10 separate bills, is currently one week late. It includes a seven-month suspension of the gas tax starting in June, a property tax rebate, the acceleration of a middle class tax cut and an increase in the state’s rainy-day fund.

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Lawmakers, advocates digest New York budget deal

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers and advocates are starting to digest the budget agreement for New York — spending that will have a wide-ranging impact on the state.

It's a budget, Democratic officials have pointed out, that will have a wide-ranging impact for New Yorkers themselves.

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Business groups: New York budget failed to get unemployment insurance fix

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

An upstate New York-focused business coalition on Friday criticized the final state budget agreement announced on Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul for not including measures meant to relieve the burden of unemployment insurance debt on the private sector.

At issue is the soaring cost of unemployment insurance for businesses incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on public gatherings and businesses.

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Syracuse University receives $20 million from NY for Carrier Dome renovations

BY Adriana Loh Syracuse

Syracuse University has received $20 million in financial support from New York to help with the Carrier Dome’s renovations according to SU officials.

For over 40 years, the Carrier Dome has hosted local and statewide nationally for large concerts, events, NCAA regional competitions and other community-focused activities.

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Restaurants cheer alcohol to-go provision in budget deal

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Two years ago, New York restaurant owners were facing the prospect of declining revenue and sales as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a broad shutdown of the economy in the state.

The one bright spot for many eateries and their customers was allowing to-go alcoholic drinks with takeout meals. And now that provision will be made law as part of a state budget agreement announced on Thursday.

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Bill sealing criminal records in New York fails in budget talks

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Supporters of a measure that would seal criminal records years after a person has completed their debt to society are planning to continue to press for the provision's approval in New York after it fell out of the state budget talks.

Those supporters range from criminal justice reform organizations, labor unions, business leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul herself, who had backed a version of what's known as the "clean slate" bill in the budget plan.

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Republicans bemoan New York state budget process

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

While there are plenty of Democrats who take issue with various aspects of the New York state budget deal, Republicans are deeply concerned not only about the substance of the budget, but about the process by which it came together.

State Assemblyman Ed Ra is a Republican from Long Island and ranking member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

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New York Assemblyman John McDonald touts success of child care funding in state budget

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

After a difficult negotiation which fell apart multiple times over the past week, New York state finally has a budget deal in place.

The $220 billion agreement includes hourly wage increases for home care workers and direct support professionals (DSPs) — those people working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Analysis: The political fallout from New York's budget deal

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's $220 billion state budget is being put to bed just as the election year is beginning to pick up.

The spending plan agreed to by Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers seemingly has something for every voter — a headline that satisfies a key constituent concern.

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Gas tax suspension, child care boost, alcohol to-go option included in $220B New York state budget

BY Nick Reisman and Luke Parsnow New York State
UPDATED 5:10 PM ET Apr. 07, 2022

Nearly a week after it was due, New York state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul have reached an agreement on a $220 billion state budget that would include a suspension of the state's gas tax, an increased investment in child care, changes to the 2019 bail law and an alcohol to-go option for bars and restaurants that was utilized in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

News: New York budget deal will include a suspension of the gas tax from June 1 through the end of the year, per source

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Kendra's Law expansion remains a final hurdle in New York state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

An expansion of law that requires people in a mental health crisis receive treatment remains one of the final stumbling blocks for lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul as they seek to forge a final state budget agreement.

But the measure known as Kendra's Law remains controversial for some Democrats in the Legislature as well as advocates for mental health treatment.

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New York Assembly majority leader defends Hochul, Buffalo Bills stadium deal

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

In a series of radio and television ads, the Seneca Nation of Indians is slamming New York Gov. Kathy Hochul over two issues related to the Buffalo Bills stadium deal: Freezing their bank accounts and using the money to pay part of the state’s share of the subsidy, and because of a perceived conflict of interest — Hochul’s husband works for Delaware North, the company that has the Bills stadium concession.

New York state Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, of Buffalo, was asked if these were valid arguments against the stadium and the governor.

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Concerns emerge over child care funding in New York state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A proposal to boost spending for child care in the New York state budget is running into problems, with some lawmakers raising concerns over whether it could be fully funded.

The development comes as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are continuing to negotiate a state budget that had been expected to pass on Friday and centers around what was due to be an issue most Democrats expected to support.

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NY Sen. Gianaris: Discovery reform 'settled,' criminal justice issues 'buttoned up' in state budget

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris told Capital Tonight that state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul have made significant progress on the state’s late budget “in just the last couple of days” in spite of efforts to insert what he called “non-budget issues” like alcohol to-go and the reform of 421a into the spending plan.

“It seems like we’re finally clearing our way through all that and now getting to the dollars and cents, which is what the budget is really about,” Gianaris said. “And hopefully wrapping it up in the next couple of days."

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New York lawmakers set to expand bail-eligible circumstances in state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state lawmakers are closing in on an agreement that could expand the circumstances in which cash bail would be required to include charges like gun trafficking as well as alleged repeat offenses, a top Democrat in the state Senate on Tuesday said.

The development comes as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are close to putting the finishing touches on a broader state budget agreement, which had been expected to pass on Friday.

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New York advocates urge aid for energy bill payments

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Advocates for older New Yorkers and low-income residents made what could be a final push on Tuesday to include aid for the more than 330,000 people who are behind on their energy bills in a state budget agreement.

The groups, including AARP New York and the Public Utility Law Project, are seeking at least $500 million in support for customers as utility bills have sharply increased this past winter.

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Western New York lawmakers defend Buffalo Bills stadium plan

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Lawmakers from Western New York in a closed-door meeting of state Assembly Democrats on Monday gave an "eloquent" defense of the plan to fund a Buffalo Bills stadium in Orchard Park using $850 million in taxpayer funding for the construction.

Funding the stadium's construction, announced initially last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul, has emerged as a point of contention in the state budget negotiations.

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Queens lawmaker argues Buffalo Bills deal sets 'bad example'

BY Erica Brosnan New York City

A Queens lawmaker is pushing back against Gov. Kathy Hochul's plan to fund construction of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.

During an appearance Tuesday on "Mornings On 1," Assemblyman Ron Kim said funding the stadium would be a "bad example."

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Analyst: A late New York state budget is on Hochul

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

No budget deal yet.

Political analyst and lobbyist Jack O’Donnell, managing partner at O’Donnell & Associates, told Capital Tonight that, at the end of the day, the blame for budget tardiness will fall on the governor, whether it’s her fault or not.

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Will ‘JCOPE redux’ be in the New York state budget?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

During a gaggle on Monday morning, New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was asked by a reporter if JCOPE reform was in the budget. His answer was “yeah, probably," but that the details had not yet been nailed down.

JCOPE is the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which has had some ethics issues of its own, but which has also recently gotten much more aggressive when it comes to clawing back former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book advance.

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Stopgap measure will keep New York government open as budget talks continue

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 5:00 PM ET Apr. 04, 2022

New York lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul continue to be at odds over funding for the Buffalo Bills' new stadium, as well as proposals to make changes to New York's 2019 bail law that largely ended cash requirements for many criminal charges.

Speaker Heastie says a budget extender needs to be done by 4 pm today as budget remains under negotiation pic.twitter.com/IZErfKZnge

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New York nursing home industry launches ad campaign for funding

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A nursing home industry organization on Monday is set to launch a $100,000 ad campaign to push for a long-term funding plan in the New York state budget.

The ad campaign from the Coalition for Quality Long Term Care is being announced as state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are yet to strike an agreement on the budget plan, which had been expected to pass last week.

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Advocates call for 'social housing' funding in budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

With state budget talks now in overtime, advocates for affordable housing are making renewed efforts to get their provisions into a finalized spending plan.

Dozens of community organizations on Friday urged top officials in New York to commit funding for community land trusts, limited equity cooperatives and other measures in what's known as social housing in an agreed-to state budget.

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House Republicans call to 'completely reverse' bail law

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican lawmakers who represent New York in the House of Representatives urged state officials to "completely reverse" the 2019 law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges in a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, pointing to a rise in violent crime.

The letter signed by the eight Republicans who represent New York in Congress, including candidate for governor Lee Zeldin, was sent as Democratic lawmakers and the governor negotiate potential changes that could expand the criteria for when cash bail could be set.

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Defenders of New York's bail law say debate won't end with state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The debate over New York's bail laws and how the criminal justice system should treat people accused of crimes will likely continue after the state budget is finalized, advocates on Friday said.

Rank-and-file state lawmakers were gone from the state Capitol on Friday, but a small group of advocates who oppose any changes to New York's 2019 cashless bail law rallied once again in the otherwise empty building.

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New York lawmaker calls for tax relief from heating bills

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Utility bill payers should have some relief from the high cost of heating their homes this past winter with a tax deduction on their annual state income tax return under proposal made Thursday by New York state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.

The measure as proposed would allow taxpayers to deduct home heating costs from their state income tax as utility bills this season have skyrocketed.

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SUNY, CUNY unions tout economic impact of higher education

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The labor unions that represent workers and staff at New York's public college and university systems are touting the economic impact that public higher education has on the state as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul continue to negotiate the budget.

The Professional Staff Congress, which represents workers at the City University of New York, as well as the United University Professions at for the State University of New York, has been making a pitch this budget season for further spending on higher education, including more support for hospitals and research centers.

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Analysis: A late New York state budget, conducted behind the scenes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Blair Horner has been a fixture at the state Capitol in New York for decades, watching a generation of state budgets be negotiated and debated. And the longtime good-government advocate at the New York Public Interest Research Group called this budget one of the more secretive ones.

"It's as secretive a budget as I've ever seen, and I've been here for a lot of them," he said. "There's no even pretense for any kind of public discussion, there's no gaggle outside of the governor's office where reporters can ask tough questions."

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New York advocates welcome ‘transformative’ child care proposals

BY Tim Williams New York State

With New York state lawmakers leaving Albany ahead of Friday's state budget deadline, it is unclear on when the financial plan will make it through both houses of the Legislature, leaving policy goals like expanded child care access in the lurch. Nonetheless, advocates and providers are optimistic about a potential $3 billion investment in the industry that has suffered financial losses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jennifer March, executive director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, told Capital Tonight that the funding will expand subsidies to help families pay for services, allow providers to invest in their workforce and get higher reimbursements from the state to cover operating costs.

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Advocates for 'Fair Pay for Home Care' fight for final New York budget inclusion

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Both the New York state Senate and Assembly included the May-Gottfried “Fair Pay for Home Care” bill in their one-house budgets. It would direct the state commissioner of health to set regional minimum rates of reimbursement for home care aides under Medicaid and managed care plans.

The question now is whether Gov. Kathy Hochul will approve the measure.

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New York's budget remains in limbo as deadline will be missed

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 3:50 PM ET Mar. 31, 2022

State lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul will not reach an agreement by the end of the day for a spending plan for New York amid a lack of agreement over key criminal justice issues.

Making changes to New York's bail law that end cash bail requirements for many criminal charges remains up in the air, though lawmakers on Thursday said progress has been made on the issue.

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With 20,000 job openings, help is desperately needed at upstate New York hospitals

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

With days to go until the New York state budget is finalized, upstate hospitals are concerned that their priorities may not make the final cut. These hospitals face special challenges since COVID-19 hit. For example, there are over 20,000 open positions at upstate hospitals from Albany to Buffalo.

Gary Fitzgerald is president and CEO of the Iroquois Healthcare Alliance which represents 50 hospitals across 32 upstate counties.

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New York hospice providers hope for funding to offset costs of 'Fair Pay for Home Care' bill

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York's “Fair Pay for Home Care” bill sponsored by state Sen. Rachel May and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried directs the state commissioner of health to set regional minimum rates of reimbursement for home care aides under Medicaid and managed care plans.

Home care workers haven’t seen a pay increase in New York in 10 years. If the bill passes in the budget, these workers would be paid at least 150% of the regional minimum wage.

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Lawmakers say bail remains key sticking point in New York budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Nine days ago, New York state Assemblywoman Latrice Walker began a hunger strike as negotiations over changes to the state's law ending cash bail requirements for many criminal charges spilled into public view.

Walker has been taking vitamins and drinking water and recently turned to bone broth. And the discussions surrounding changes to the law remain the key sticking in the budget talks as the deadline nears for a deal and final passage.

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NYCLU pushes preferred 'clean slate' bill

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The New York Civil Liberties Union wants a faster way of sealing many criminal records in the state as part of a final budget deal.

The conversations over the proposal surrounding the "Clean Slate" Act are being held as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are considering a broad package of criminal justice law changes addressing concerns over cashless bail, evidence discovery procedures and access to tuition assistance for people in prison.

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TAP access for people in prison gains more backing

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A proposal to allow people in prison to access state tuition assistance has gained the backing of the League of Women Voters as state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul debate whether to include the provision in a final budget agreement.

The move, proposed earlier this year by Gov. Hochul in her budget plan, would restore access to state tuition assistance after both Pell grants and money under the Tuition Assistance Program were blocked for people in prison in 1994 and 1995.

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Caregiver tax credit gets last-minute push for state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

More than two dozen organizations this week are making a final push to include a tax credit meant to help caregivers who provide support for a relative or loved one as part of the state budget that is due to pass by the end of the week.

Thirty-five groups composed of health, consumer and aging organizations and led by AARP New York, urged the top Democrats in the state Legislature to include the tax credit in a final budget agreement in a letter sent this week.

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New York's budget talks remain in neutral amid disagreement

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Consume this news while seated: New York's state budget may be a late one.

The April 1 deadline is essentially a meaningless one for nearly all 20 million New Yorkers, even as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul wrestle with consequential proposals over how to fund child care, whether New York's criminal justice system needs to undergo further changes and how at minimum $216 billion in taxpayer money should be spent.

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NY Sen. Rivera disappointed by Hochul's push for bail law changes in state budget talks

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

With the New York state budget due on Friday, there are plenty of issues in flux, from funding for universal child care to a pay raise for home care workers. But according to the chairman of the state Senate Health Committee, Sen. Gustavo Rivera, it’s been difficult finding traction on these issues because the focus in Albany has been on bail reform.

“It’s unfortunate that so much oxygen has been taken out of the room because of the whole bail reform conversation,” Rivera told Capital Tonight. “As it relates to bail reform, I will say that I’m very disappointed that the governor came in at what is basically the 11th hour and injected something into the budget conversation that I don’t think belongs in the budget conversation.”

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The latest on housing issues in the New York state budget

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Housing activists are again sounding the alarm as the New York state budget deadline approaches. They argue that thousands of New Yorkers are facing eviction and foreclosure as both moratoria have expired, and even more New Yorkers are currently homeless.

The state’s eviction moratorium expired on Jan. 15, but tenant advocates argue that it’s critical to keep the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) open because once a tenant applies for funding through this program, he or she cannot be evicted.

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Local control at issue in downstate New York casino talks

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As state lawmakers negotiate whether to extend up to three casino licenses in the New York City metropolitan region, there's a debate over how much control local government officials and community leaders should have in deciding where the casinos would be built.

Lawmakers expect a final agreement on the casino licensing plan for New York City and the surrounding region will be included in a finalized state budget plan, which is expected to be approved in the coming days.

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Gas tax rebate or suspension remain on New York state budget table

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A rebate program in which households would receive a check or an outright suspension of the state taxes on gasoline remain on the negotiating table in the state budget talks, New York lawmakers on Tuesday said.

New York officials are discussing how to address the spiking the cost of gas, which remains above $4 a gallon in many parts of the state.

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New York lawmakers want gas tax relief 'in perpetuity'

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul negotiate potential ways of addressing the increased cost of gasoline in New York, some Republicans are calling for long-term relief.

But environmental organizations and transit organizations are skeptical a gas tax suspension or cap would have any benefit for the consumer, while at the same time starve mass transit systems and road and bridge projects of needed funding.

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Analysis: 'Turbulence' for Hochul amid New York state budget storm

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Putting together a state budget is no easy task, especially in an election season as a rookie governor. Mix in the nationwide and global uncertainty over the economy, high gas prices and general fatigue from two years of a public health crisis, it can be a toxic brew.

More New Yorkers this month believe the state is heading in the wrong direction, up from 45% in a February Siena College poll to 49% in the survey released on Monday. New Yorkers have deepening worries over the state of their finances and the economy, as well as a rise in crime.

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Clergy urge against 'raise the age' changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Juvenile justice law changes that no longer treat 16 and 17-year-olds like adults should not be rolled back, dozens of clergy members urged in a letter to New York leaders to be released later on Monday.

The letter from the clergy members is the latest salvo in the debate over how to shape New York's criminal justice system amid a rise in some violent crimes across the country, and rising voter concern over the issue.

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New York disability service advocates push for more state funding

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills football team is just one of artist and performer Jason Smith's many passions.

The 53-year-old adult with a developmental disability showed off his artwork of a Bills helmet at People Inc.'s The Art Experience program. The season ticket holder says he plans to bring it to a game.

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Hochul: 'There's urgency' for public safety, criminal justice measures in New York state budget deal

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A New York state budget agreement could include a range of criminal justice and public safety law changes, making for a sweeping compromise amid ongoing concerns over crime.

At least that's what has happened in the past, when disparate issues are knit together in a final budget deal that make it hard for lawmakers who have some misgivings to vote against it. On Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters there's a desire to use the budget as a "vehicle" for a number of changes.

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NY Sen. Gounardes wants 'New Deal' for funding SUNY, CUNY

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Advocates for New York's city and state university systems have criticized the state government over underfunding the schools for years.

“Over the last decade, frankly even more than that, we have seen just a steady decline in the amount of state support going to these institutions,” state Sen. Andrew Gounardes told Capital Tonight.

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Good government group 'Reinvent Albany' on New York budget and ethics reform

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Good government groups are frequently frustrated with Albany, but this year they may be more so because they expected new Gov. Kathy Hochul to usher in a new wave of transparency. Instead, at least one group, Reinvent Albany, is sharing the same litany of grievances it did last year when Andrew Cuomo was still governor.

“The big priority for government watch dog groups like ours is creating a new ethics commission that’s independently appointed,” John Kaehny, of Reinvent Albany, told Capital Tonight. “And, as The Times Union editorialized Friday, that seems to be dead in the water at the moment.”

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Hochul says she wants to take temperature down in New York state budget talks

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul wants her first state budget to be a different one — especially when it comes to style, tone and substance of the talks in Albany.

"I feel really good about where we are. It's a different environment," she told a handful of reporters on Friday in an impromptu question-and-answer session. "The temperature is a lot lower. We're trying to get decisions earlier than later in the hopes of getting this accomplished as soon as we can."

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Hochul says she's open to gas tax relief in New York state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday confirmed top officials in New York are considering ways of providing some sort of relief at the gas pump for drivers in the state budget plan.

The budget talks have centered around a potential suspension of state taxes on per-gallon gasoline sales until the end of the year.

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Environmental groups urge rejection of New York gas tax suspension

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Prominent environmental, transit and good-government organizations on Friday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to reject a proposed gas tax suspension in the state budget, arguing it would run counter to the state's efforts to combat climate change and deprive road improvement projects of funding.

Lawmakers and Hochul are negotiating a potential suspension of the tax that would run from May 1 to the end of the year as the per-gallon price of gasoline remains above $4 in many parts of New York.

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Performing arts venues seek help in budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Performing arts venues in New York are seeking financial relief from state officials as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are negotiating a $216 billion budget.

The venues were financially battered over the last two years by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have struggled as attendance starts to return to normal levels.

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How rising costs could affect the campaign season in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As New Yorkers increasingly worry about the cost of filling up their gas tank and their grocery bills, candidates for governor are proposing ways of addressing the anxiety over inflation.

The discussions are partially the product of a state budget season in Albany overlapping with the ramping up of statewide political campaigns. But it also reflects issues that could still resonate with voters heading into the June primary and fall general election.

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Opponents seize on Hochul's silence over bail reform in governor's race

BY Maya Rajamani and Zack Fink Manhattan

NEW YORK — Already overshadowing state budget talks, bail reform is also becoming an early hot topic in the race for governor, giving a big political headache to incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul.

In a Daily News op-ed published Wednesday, Hochul and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin touted a package of criminal justice reforms they hope state lawmakers will enact as part of the budget, including a “dangerousness standard” that would allow judges to determine who should be released before trial.

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Advocates press New York officials to not make criminal justice changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Progressive organizations and criminal justice advocacy groups are moving to counteract a push in Albany to make changes to New York's recent package of changes to the state's bail and evidence discovery laws, as well as how juveniles are treated in the court system.

The latest efforts comes from more than 70 national and state organizations pushing back against proposed changes. Backers of the effort range from Jay-Z to the Center for American Progress, ACLU, Indivisible, the Working Families Party, National Domestic Workers Alliance and MoveOn.

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Broad coalition calls for insurance expansion to cover undocumented New Yorkers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Expanding health insurance coverage to undocumented New Yorkers has gained the backing a broad coalition of policy experts, business lobbyists and immigrant-rights advocates as state lawmakers debate whether to include it in the state budget due next week.

The issue of expanding health insurance to undocumented people in the state has largely flown under the radar this budget season in Albany as activists have called for additional benefits to aid the undocumented community, such as replenishment of the excluded workers fund.

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Poloncarz hopeful, but won't panic if no Bills stadium announcement comes by April 1

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The New York state budget is due on April 1, but that is also a day many Buffalo Bills fans have their eyes on for another reason.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has repeatedly said she expects a deal in place for a new Bills stadium in time for the budget. On Wednesday, Spectrum News 1 asked Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz if "Bills fans in Western New York shouldn't go into a state of panic" if there is no announcement by the long-awaited pseudo deadline.

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Will New York get new plastic packaging requirements right or wrong?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

To get a handle on plastic packaging, there is a movement to get companies to take responsibility for all the waste they produce. It’s called Extended Producer Responsibility, or EPR.

According to the group Beyond Plastics, strong and transparent EPR can be used to solve the growing problem of packaging waste and plastic pollution, but only if states get the details right and hold companies accountable.

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New York lawmakers want more support for 211 helpline

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers on Wednesday called for a strengthening of the state's 211 helpline as a part of New York's disaster emergency plan while also boosting funding for it in the state budget.

The proposal backed by state Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Sen. Peter Harckham is meant to provide for the 211 helpline's continued activiation during an emergency as part of a response for non-emergency requests for assistance.

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Hochul outlines proposals to change New York bail law amid budget talks

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Changes to New York's law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges can be changed to bolster public safety while also keeping the criminal justice system fair, Gov. Kathy Hochul wrote in an op/ed released on Wednesday.

At the same time, top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly signaled their Democratic-led chambers would be willing to consider some changes to the law, but insisted they did not want to a full scaling back of the law meant to keep poor people and people of color from waiting lengthy periods of time in local jails.

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Changes called for in New York's $5B business subsidies

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

More than a dozen organizations — ranging from non-partisan watchdog groups to progressive groups and labor unions — are pushing for changes in how New York spends $5 billion in subsidies meant to grow jobs, but often fall short of expectations and transparency.

The organizations, led by the good-government group Reinvent Albany, urged top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly as well as Gov. Kathy Hochul to take up the changes as they negotiate a $216 billion budget plan expected to be approved next week.

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District attorneys back extending tuition assistance to people in prison

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The statewide organization that represents local district attorneys in New York is backing a measure to extend the Tuition Assistance Program to people in prison.

Support from the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York comes as lawmakers and Hochul are considering a range of criminal justice and public safety measures this week as part of the broader budget negotiations.

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How state lawmakers want to make it cheaper to live in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Inflation has led to sharp increases in everyday goods — groceries and gas now cost a lot more. In New York, a high-cost state to begin with, pain from inflation and high gas prices can be felt even more.

But as state lawmakers negotiate a state budget due at the end of the month, there are bipartisan calls for trying to find ways of easing price burdens on consumers and taking less of a bite out of their wallets.

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Proposals to overhaul New York bail law yet to gain traction

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Making changes to New York's bail law is proving to be an increasingly difficult knot to untie in the state Legislature, where top Democrats are yet to embrace any proposals that Gov. Kathy Hochul wants included in the state budget.

The changes to the law that largely ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges come as elected officials are trying to address increasing voter concerns over a rise in violent crime across the state.

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Clergy urge passage of excluded workers bill in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

More than 170 clergy and faith leaders in New York signed onto a letter to be widely released Tuesday calling for additional aid to workers not covered by unemployment benefits and federal pandemic relief.

Advocates are calling for replenishment of what's known as the excluded worker fund after lawmakers declined to back further money for the program in their state budget proposals this month. Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature are expected to reach a budget deal by next week.

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Bail debate scrambles New York state budget talks

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A leak of proposed changes to New York's controversial law that largely ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges is raining on the budget parade at the state Capitol.

With roughly a week and a half to go before the budget deal, last week's disclosure that Gov. Kathy Hochul is trying to negotiate changes to the law have set up a difficult needle for her to thread: Progressives don't want to do it; suburban and upstate Democrats feel like they must.

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How the New York state budget might address decarbonization in buildings

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Buildings are the number one emitters of carbon in New York state. Those emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels like oil and gas for heating and cooling.

Convincing New Yorkers to support a ban on natural gas connections to newly constructed homes and buildings was going to be a heavy lift even before Russia invaded Ukraine. With the subsequent increase in gas prices and utility costs on the rise, it may seem even more daunting.

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New York's district attorneys on Hochul's criminal justice reforms

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Last week, The New York Post published a confidential 10-point plan from the office of Gov. Kathy Hochul that would modify the state’s bail law and expand the mental health statute known as Kendra’s law. Hochul has since confirmed that the plan is indeed hers.

Among other measures, Hochul’s proposal would give judges more discretion over whether to set bail for defendants who are repeat offenders, or who have a history of criminal activity.

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AG James calls for child care expansion in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York should expand child care programs amid a "crisis" of caregiving facing families, state Attorney General Letitia James said Sunday at a campaign rally centered around the issue.

James is highlighting the child care issue as state lawmakers in the coming days could approve a budget that increases spending for child care programs and expands access to more middle-income families in New York to subsidized care.

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5 issues facing New York officials as budget enters crunch time

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 1:00 PM ET Mar. 20, 2022

State lawmakers return to Albany on Monday as crunch time for the budget will begin: A spending plan is expected to pass by April 1, the start of New York's fiscal year.

The budget under consideration includes provisions meant to help struggling people recover from the financial effects of the pandemic. But deep fiscal uncertainty remains amid global tensions and spiking inflation. Here are five key issues facing lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul:

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NYCLU: Hochul’s reforms to bail law 'a matter of politics, politics, politics'

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

After months of not engaging on the issue of bail reform, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has reportedly decided that the state’s controversial law, originally passed in 2019, needs to be reformed for a second time.

In a memo whose existence was originally reported by The New York Post, Hochul makes clear she wants lawmakers to reinstate judicial discretion for serial offenders they feel are a danger to the community.

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New York's budget could expand postpartum coverage

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York lawmakers are calling for an expansion of postpartum coverage in the state's Medicaid program, increasing the period from 60 days to a full year.

The provision was advanced this week by both chambers in the state Senate and Assembly budget proposals; a final spending plan is expected to be approved by March 31.

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Push for excluded workers, undocumented immigrants' aid in budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As the days tick away to a state budget deadline in New York, advocates for workers who did not qualify for federal pandemic aid are mounting a persuasion campaign to replenish a fund that aided them in last year's spending plan agreement.

The push for excluded workers in the budget is coming in two forms: data and demonstrations. And it comes after the Democratic-led houses of the state Legislature did not set aside money in either of their competing spending proposals for adding additional money to the excluded workers fund.

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Hochul seeks changes to bail reform law as part of state budget

BY Zack Fink New York City

In a ten-point plan obtained by NY1 News, Gov. Kathy Hochul is calling for significant changes to criminal justice reforms championed — and passed — by the legislature over the last few years.

While Mayor Eric Adams has been calling for changes to these same laws, the legislature has staunchly resisted. And by issuing her plan, Hochul puts herself clearly in the mayor’s corner, setting up a showdown with legislative leaders as they work to finalize the state budget this month.

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State budget watchdog urges New York lawmakers to save for a rainy day

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

While both legislative one-house budgets add spending to the executive budget, New York state budget watchdogs are sounding the alarm over the economy. The Citizens Budget Commission is urging lawmakers to exercise some restraint when it comes to spending.

When Gov. Kathy Hochul rolled out her budget proposal in January, it was a historic $216 billion spending package.

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New York officials urged to boost infrastructure spending in state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of organizations representing contractors and labor unions on Thursday is putting its weight behind a proposal backed by Democrats in the state Senate that would add billions more dollars to infrastructure spending in New York.

The chamber's budget resolution approved earlier this week included provisions meant to increase funding for major road and highway improvement and maintenance programs over the coming years.

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Construction group: Budget plans could raise cost of projects in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A prominent construction industry organization is raising concerns with the state budget proposals released this week by the state Legislature over concerns the proposals could increase the cost of projects in New York.

The Associated Builders and Contractors pointed to the proposed expansion of prevailing wage measures to projects that are not traditionally included, as well as requirements for project labor agreements that are meant to favor labor unions.

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Bills stadium deal expected soon with NFL meetings, state budget coming up

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The National Football League's annual ownership meetings are scheduled to take place in Palm Beach, Florida from March 27 to March 30.

Sports consultant and new stadium project expert Marc Ganis plans to be at the meetings and expects the approval of a deal to build a new Buffalo Bills stadium to be among the top priorities.

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New York lawmakers hope this isn't last call for alcohol-to-go

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state lawmakers are making a final push to get an alcohol-to-go provision approved in the state budget after their chambers' budget proposals omitted the measure.

Lawmakers on Wednesday in New York City said the measure was necessary to aid the ailing restaurant industry, which has struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Conservation groups seek final approval of clean fuel standard in state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of environmental organizations and labor unions is making a final push in the coming weeks to gain the approval of a clean fuel standard in the state budget with the goal of reducing carbon emissions in New York state.

The measure is meant to reduce emissions by addressing the carbon intensity of motor fuels with the blending of low-carbon alternatives. A version of the proposal, which has been backed by state Sen. Kevin Parker and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner in the state Legislature, was included in the state Senate's budget proposal this week.

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County governments want their sales tax money back

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Over the last several years, more than a half-billion dollars in sales tax revenue was diverted from county governments to the state's coffers.

County government officials this week said it's time to end the practice.

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Relief at the gas pump could come in the New York state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Relief at the gas pump in New York could come as early as May 1 under a proposal advanced this week by Democrats in the state Legislature.

The proposal, which lawmakers want included in the final version of the state budget due at the end of the month, takes aim at New York's 48-cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline by creating a seven-month suspension.

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