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Hochul says ‘parameters of a conceptual agreement’ reached on NYS budget

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announces a tentative budget agreement on April 15, 2024.
Mike Groll
Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announces a tentative budget agreement on April 15, 2024.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Monday that a tentative $237 billion budget deal has been reached, 15 days after the spending plan was due.

Hochul spoke in her ceremonial office in the State Capitol, surrounded by top aides and budget staff.

“We have the parameters of a conceptual agreement on the fiscal year 2025 state budget,” Hochul said.

The state’s Democratic legislative leaders did not attend the announcement. They were still going over the details of the tentative accord with their members. 

Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said “there is no agreement yet,” but the governor and Legislature “are getting close.” 

Hochul said a tentative deal on an affordable housing program will revive and reform a key tax break for real estate developers who include affordable housing units in their projects. It will also allow localities to authorize accessory dwelling units, also known as tiny houses, on homeowners’ properties. 

The plan also offers grants to local governments who agree to build more affordable housing and would spend $500 million to develop new housing on state-owned property.

The housing package also includes strengthened tenants’ rights, said Hochul’s counsel, Liz Fine.

“It 's a great balance,” Fine said. “Both to protect small landlords and protect owners’ rights, but also to make sure that we have affordable housing in New York.”

The preliminary deal also adds stronger criminal penalties for hate crimes and cracks down on retail theft and illegal cannabis shops.

The budget deal increases school aid spending and walks back Hochul’s proposal to end what’s known as “hold harmless,” a provision that guarantees no school district receives less money than it did the previous year. The governor’s plan would have cut funding for half of the districts in the state.

Hochul said the entire school aid formula will be reviewed by SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government, and changes will be enacted for next year.

“We can't continue to fund our schools based on politics,” she said.

Not everyone is happy with the accord. Tenants’ rights groups said the new protections fall short of provisions in the “Good Cause” eviction measure supported by progressive Democrats. In a statement, Cea Weaver with Housing Justice for All said it would be “the weakest in the country.”

But New York State Republican Party Chair Ed Cox said in a statement that the new tenant protections, as well as the other housing provisions, are “doomed to failure.”

Disability rights groups came to the Capitol to protest changes in the budget agreement to the state’s consumer-directed care program. The program gives over 225,000 New Yorkers with disabilities the tools to hire their own home health care workers to help them with essential daily tasks that they can’t do themselves, like eating and bathing.

The new budget would eliminate the 700 regionally based centers in New York that help administer the program and replace them with one large out-of-state entity.

Denise Figueroa, the executive director of the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, said the news came as a complete surprise. She said the large companies that run the consumer-directed programs in other states have poor track records, with long delays on worker paychecks and hiring authorization as well as technical glitches.

“If you're depending on a personal assistant to get you in and out of bed, or you know, do your trach or helping you with catheterization, you're going to be in a lot of trouble,” Figaro said. “You're going to end up in a hospital, in an institution or dead.”

Hochul countered that the popular home health care program has grown by 1,200% in the past eight years, and that the change will save the state $500 million and better track potential abuses.

“These can be like runaway trains if you don't have someone step up and say, ‘Why is this being done this way, and is it really serving the people it's supposed to serve,’” she said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on Monday approved a fifth budget extender to keep the state running for a few more days, until they can secure the remaining details and print budget bills that they can vote on.

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.