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Gov. Hochul declares conceptual agreement on a state budget. Assembly Speaker says not so fast

Governor Hochul announced a conceptual agreement with legislative leaders on key priorities in the Fiscal Year 2025 New York State Budget Apr. 15, 2024.
Heastie: Karen DeWitt; Hochul: Mike Groll
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Governor Hochul announced a conceptual agreement with legislative leaders on key priorities in the Fiscal Year 2025 New York State Budget Apr. 15, 2024. Assembly Speaker Heastie chats with reporters Apr. 16, 2024.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced 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. A spokesman for Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Mike Murphy says “there is no agreement yet”, but he says the governor and legislature “are getting close."

Hochul says 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 homeowner’s 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, as explained by 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 it walks back Hochul’s proposal to end what’s known as “hold harmless.” That provision guarantees that no school district receives less money than it did the previous year. The governor’s plan would have cut funding for half of the school districts in the state.

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

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

Not everyone is happy with the accord. Tenants’ rights groups say the new protections fall short of provisions in the Good Cause Eviction measure advocated by progressive democrats. In a statement, Housing Justice for All’s Cea Weaver says 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 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, says the news came as a complete surprise. She says the large companies that run the consumer directed programs in other states have poor track records, with long delays on worker paychecks, technical glitches, and lengthy delays in hiring authorization.

“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 counters that the popular home health care program has grown by 1200% in the past eight years, and that the change will save the state $500 million and better track abuses.

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

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


One day after Governor Kathy Hochul announced that there’s a conceptual deal on the state budget, the Assembly Speaker says that announcement was premature. He says many lawmakers have yet to be briefed on all the details, and that nothing is set in stone.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says it’s true that Hochul and democratic lawmakers are generally on the same page on key issues, including easing the affordable housing crisis, a study to make future changes to the school aid formula, and increasing penalties for retail theft. But he says it’s too soon to say there’s an actual budget deal.

“The pencils weren't fully down,” Heastie told reporters. “But I would say conceptually we probably were close on a lot of things.”

A spokesman for Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Mike Murphy said late Monday that “there is no agreement yet”, but he says the governor and legislature “are getting close."

Heastie has used the analogy of the governor and legislature being in the same galaxy, same planet, same state, then the same town, to describe how close they are to agreement. Now he says it’s inched a bit closer. But he says he’s still hearing back from his democratic majority members in private meetings, and many have questions about the proposed spending plan.

“I think we were in the same zip code,” the speaker said. “But, I always have to brief members before I can ever say, a deal is a deal."

Heastie says the biggest questions his members have concern the tentative housing deal. Hochul on Monday night announced that a new tax break for developers who include affordable housing in their projects, known as 485x. It would replace the former tax break 421a, which expired two years ago.

“These new measures represent the most comprehensive new housing policy our state has seen in three generations,” Hochul said on April 15th.

The housing package also includes more rights for tenants, and the Speaker confirmed that the measure, known as Good Cause Evictions Act, would be mandatory in New York city , but localities outside of the city could choose whether to opt in.

The housing package has been criticized by both progressive groups and Republicans, who are in the minority in the state legislature.

Heastie says perhaps it is a good sign that the deal pleases no one.

Every one who had an interest in this was probably going to not walk away happy,” Heastie said. “ And I think we've accomplished that mission.”

The budget was dues April 1st. Since then, the governor and lawmakers have approved five spending extenders as the weeks have dragged on. The current one runs out on Thursday. The Speaker could not say whether a sixth extender will be necessary or if the budget will be finished by then.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment and interviews newsmakers. Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.