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New York budget approved with some wins and losses for Hochul

The New York state Capitol in Albany.
File photo
The New York state Capitol in Albany.

New York lawmakers stayed up late to complete the state budget, which was more than one month overdue.

The $229 billion package includes changes to bail reform laws, the minimum wage, and new requirements to shift people to clean energy.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, in her first year elected to the office, saw some wins, including changes to the state’s controversial bail reform laws that will give judges more discretion to choose bail when dealing with people accused of serious crimes.

New requirements for electrification of new homes and building construction start in 2026 and 2028, and the minimum wage will start to rise — to $17 in New York City and $16 for the rest of the state in three years. After that, it will automatically increase annually, at the rate of inflation.

The budget also includes a crackdown on illegal cannabis shops, and it will allow 22 more charter schools to open.

Hochul, speaking as lawmakers began passing the final bills, said the package was worth the wait.

“When New Yorkers look back, they don't care so much about the time element involved,” Hochul said. “Because that time element gave me the necessary time to really get signature bills and ideas over the finish line.”

There were some things left out of the budget.

One of the governor’s major proposals, to build 800,000 new units of housing over the next decade, was rejected by Democrats who lead the Senate and the Assembly over a proposal to give the state the authority to override local zoning laws.

Legislators also did not agree to Hochul’s plan to ban menthol and other flavored cigarettes, though they did consent to raise the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack.

The governor, for her part, thwarted an attempt by the Legislature to raise taxes on the rich.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said overall, he’s satisfied with the spending plan.

“I think this checked a lot of boxes on the things that the members of the Assembly support, maybe not at the levels that the members would have liked,” Heastie said on Tuesday. “But I would say probably, this might be the best non-pandemic budget I've seen in my 23 years in the Assembly.”

The Legislature has just over five weeks until the 2023 session ends.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.