By the DC 37 Political Action & Legislative Department
On Feb. 1, Gov. Kathy Hochul revealed her executive budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024.
Below is an overview of the governor’s plans on a range of issues that impact New York residents and working families:
To address the ongoing housing crisis, the Governor proposed the creation of the “New York Housing Compact,” a plan that includes building 800,000 new homes over the next decade. This program will focus on locations near existing subway and commuter rail lines. This plan will allow better access to mass transit and make it more difficult for suburban communities to reject new housing development projects.
In her address, Governor Hochul revealed an array of public safety initiatives and investments to sharpen the State’s response to guns and violent crime. These proposals build on criminal justice legislative reforms—particularly “second chance” reforms signed by Gov. Hochul since she took office in 2021.
In her budget proposals, the Governor presented an ambitious $1 billion multi-year investment to overhaul mental health care in New York. The goal is to reduce the number of New Yorkers with unmet mental health needs by:
- Increasing operational capacity by 1,000 beds for inpatient psychiatric treatment;
- Creating 3,500 units of housing to serve New Yorkers with mental illness;
- Increasing insurance coverage for mental health services;
- Expanding outpatient services;
- Systemic accountability for hospital admissions and discharges to prioritize the needs of individuals with mental illness.
The governor called on the State legislature to support her plan to help low-wage New Yorkers meet rising living costs by indexing New York’s minimum wage to inflation. Under Hochul’s proposal, the State’s minimum wage would increase at a rate determined by the Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners in the Northeast Region.
To confront climate change, Hochul announced the creation of a Cap-and-Invest Program that sets a gradually declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Expected proceeds from the program are shared with New Yorkers from disadvantaged communities to help cover utility bills, transportation costs, and decarbonization efforts.
The budget includes an additional $500 million in Clean Water Infrastructure Funding to ensure New Yorkers’ access to clean drinking water. In addition, for 800,000 electric utility customers statewide who are not yet eligible for the State’s current utility discount program, the Department of Public Service (DPS) will provide a monthly discount.
Hochul’s budget includes $7.6 billion over four years to make New York’s childcare system fairer, more affordable, and easier to access. Her proposal would simplify the childcare application process and increase the income limit for childcare assistance, enabling 113,000 more children to qualify for the program.
The proposed budget expands full-day prekindergarten access for New York’s four-year-old children and funds high-impact tutoring programs to assist students recovering from pandemic-related learning loss. There are also funds to expand Early College High School (ECHS) Programs and Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-Tech) programs. This allows high school students to start earning college credits and reduce their student debt burden.
However, DC 37 opposes the Governor’s plan to eliminate a cap on charter schools in New York City. The expansion of charter schools redirects public funds into private entities that depend on a lottery system for admissions. Unfortunately, this method has a history of excluding high-needs students, and there is less oversight over these institutions than with traditional public schools.
The union’s position is that leaders are responsible for ensuring every child in New York City has access to quality education. Public money should be devoted to the City’s public schools, serving all children.
The adopted budget must include funding to expand the State’s Substance Abuse and Prevention Intervention Specialist (SAPIS) program. Drug overdose deaths have increased substantially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. SAPIS workers are a vital resource to combat drug use among school-aged children across New York State.
On health care reform, the union opposes the “Pay and Pursue” managed care proposal in the Governor’s 2023 budget proposal. Pay and Pursue would require insurance plans to pay claims before reviews to determine if the care provided was medically necessary.
Pay and Pursue also establishes a new review process when one already exists in law. This proposal would harm DC 37 members by confusing the definition of “medical necessity.”
Additionally, implementing an additional review system threatens to inflate the costs New York City pays to provide hospital care for city employees. Increasing the financial burden that New York City devotes to healthcare costs removes resources from city agencies and other essential city services.