Reaction to governor’s budget message largely positive

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ALBANY — Reaction to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget message has been mixed, according to statements by local and state lawmakers and other officials.

Hochul, on Tuesday, outlined her $216.3 billion proposed executive budget. Top legislative leaders are expected to keep negotiating with Hochul to finalize the budget, which must be in place by April 1. Among the items included in the plan, Hochul is proposing a 3.1% spending increase; school spending would increase by $2.1 billion, a 7.1% increase; and the budget plan also includes $1.2 billion in bonuses for health care and front line workers.

Hochul also proposes offering $2.2 billion in one-time property tax rebates for low- and middle-income homeowners. Hochul also wants New York to decrease tax rates for the middle class by $162 million through April 2023. Currently, the state is set to wait until 2025 to fully phase in those long-planned tax cuts. Counties could also raise sales taxes without approval from state lawmakers under another proposal by Hochul.

Teachers union backs plan

“With the state on solid financial footing, the ongoing needs of our pandemic-battered public schools, colleges and hospitals must be met this year. Gov. Hochul’s spending plan makes some important commitments toward meeting those needs, including a significant increase in aid for K-12 schools and sorely needed operating aid for SUNY and CUNY,” said New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta. “We look forward to reviewing the executive budget in greater detail and ensuring the voices of our members are included in the conversation between now and April 1.”

Local lawmaker cites spending

“While I am pleased to see that the governor’s budget included funding for infrastructure, education and health care, I am concerned with the ambiguity of this proposal in how it will impact the quality of life for New Yorkers, particularly those who reside in upstate New York,” said Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-101, New Hartford.

“At $216.3 billion, this year’s budget is the largest in our state’s history, and I feel that we need to take a closer look at the details,” Miller said. “I had hoped the governor would speak more on the issues plaguing our agricultural community, which is crucial to all of New York. Additionally, there needs to be a more coherent and sustainable plan to bring New York out of the current health care crisis. These are just a few of the serious issues which will need to be hashed out during the upcoming budget negotiations.”

“Rest assured, my Republican colleagues and I will be fighting to ensure that quality of life will be improved for all of New York,” he added.

Business Council support

“The Business Council is encouraged by highlights presented by Governor Hochul in her budget address today, including resources to support economic growth and critical infrastructure, support for childcare services, support for small businesses, and important measures to help maintain long-term financial stability for the state, all while avoiding new revenue measures,” said Heather Briccetti, Business Council president and chief executive officer.

“We are hopeful, as we continue to review the full proposal, that the executive budget avoids imposing any significant new burdens on New York businesses still recovering from a global pandemic,” Briccetti added.

School boards tout aid increase

The New York State School Boards Association “is pleased to hear the first details of Gov. Hochul’s executive budget plan for 2022-23. Her proposed budget would fulfill her pledge to continue phasing in the full foundation aid formula and would ensure that every district receives at least a 3% increase,” the organization said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The proposed 7.1% school aid increase would provide $1.6 billion in additional foundation aid in 2022-23 and would enable individual school districts to direct the aid where it is needed most, while easing potential impacts on local taxpayers,” the statement said. “By following through with a second year of the three-year foundation aid phase-in strategy, the governor has helped to assure school districts of consistent state support as they plan for the future.”

“The minimum 3% foundation aid increase Gov. Hochul has proposed for districts already at full funding also is welcome as all districts face increasing costs,” the NYSSBA said. “The governor’s proposed initiative to expand affordable broadband access to New Yorkers in rural and urban areas would offer another significant step toward ensuring that all students have the digital resources they need to succeed in school, now and far into the future.”

“Finally, NYSSBA applauds the governor’s focus on children and their needs, including after-school programs and mental health support, in her budget message. We look forward to hearing more details as they become available and as the Legislature begins its review of the spending plan,” it added.

School aid figures for districts were not yet available, according to officials. Those figures, which outline the proposed state aid figures for school districts, were expected to be released in the coming days.

Counties encouraged

“Counties are very encouraged to see that the budget makes significant progress in restoring local control over local taxes by making sales tax rates permanent and ending the misguided practice of intercepting local sales tax to pay for the State’s AIM program,” said Marte Sauerbrey, president of the New York State Association of Counties.

“Counties also applaud the inclusion of increased funding for local public health departments that have been on the front lines of the pandemic for nearly two years, as well as investments in local road and bridge programs, strengthening workforce development, expanding local veterans’ programs, and modernizing the vacation rental industry...”

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