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The state budget is complete, nearly three weeks after it was due

This file photo shows the New York state Capitol in Albany.
Hans Pennink
Associated Press file photo
This file photo shows the New York state Capitol in Albany.

New York State lawmakers finished up the state budget over the weekend , nearly three week after it was due. The $237 billion spending plan includes restored funding for school aid, and a housing package to encourage the growth of affordable housing in New York. 

The New York state Assembly voted on the final budget bill over the weekend, nearly three weeks after the April 1 deadline. The Senate finished one day earlier. 

The spending plan reverses Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal to change the ways schools are funded. It would have resulted in half of the state’s school districts receiving less money than they had expected to. Hochul dropped an unpopular plan to eliminate a provision known as “hold harmless,” which guaranteed that no school would receive less money than it did the previous year, after both majority party Democrats and minority party Republicans objected. 

The spending plan also includes a housing package that creates a new tax break for developers who include affordable housing in their projects, known as 485x. It also briefly revives a former tax break, known as 421a, that expired two years ago, so that some affordable housing projects in the pipeline can be built. The housing package also contains strengthened protections for tenants, though not as comprehensive as housing advocates and some progressive Democrats had wanted. 

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins praised the agreement in remarks on the Senate floor.

“We can't expect people to make their lives from start to finish in our great state if average homes cost luxury prices,” Stewart-Cousins said. “Although it may not be a silver bullet, it’s an imperative step in the right direction.” 

Hochul, speaking on New York City public radio station WNYC’s the Brian Lehrer Show said while everyone did not get all that they wanted, she still considers the housing deal a victory. 

“There's always controversy. Everybody wants what they think is the perfect deal,” Hochul said on April 17, "But this is so much more than they had. And I would take that as a win.” 

Hochul, who announced the budget agreement on April 15, nearly a week before it was actually completed, also won a few key provisions that she had sought. 

One will stiffen penalties for retail theft, which has become an increasing concern among New Yorkers, including assaulting a store worker while robbing a retail businesses. The Speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie, among others, had opposed the proposal, but in the end agreed to it. 

Hochul also convinced lawmakers to include a provision sought by her ally, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, to allow the mayor to retain control over the administration of the New York City schools. 

And she achieved a change in the how a popular consumer directed home health care program for the chronically ill and people with disabilities is administered. It will allow the health department to contract with an outside entity to administer the program, cutting out around 350 locally based fiscal intermediaries. The provision was opposed by disabled groups, and both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. 

The GOP, which holds minority party status in both houses of the legislature, criticized the Democrats’ budget. 

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, who represents the Buffalo area, said the housing package falls short, and does little for New Yorkers outside of New York City. And he says the new penalties against retail theft are not enough, in light of crime issues in the state that he says has led to the deaths of three police officers this month.

“We all know that we had to do a better job on crime. We were failing,” Ortt said. “You can ask any New Yorker of all political stripes, and they will tell you we are not doing enough on crime. This state is equally unsafe for more people today than it's ever been.” 

Ortt also decried an $8 billion in increased spending in the new budget over last year’s spending plan, saying the state is spending more, but New Yorkers are getting less.

The budget also includes $2.4 billion to help deal with the state’s migrant crisis, and a crackdown on illegal cannabis shops that have sprung up as the state has been slow to license legal retailers for adult recreational marijuana. Law enforcement will now have the power to immediately shutter illegal stores found to be in violation of the state’s cannabis laws, without having to wait for court action. 

Lawmakers are now on break until May 6, when they return to finish the rest of the legislative session.








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.