Governor Kathy Hochul released her $227 billion executive state budget last week and despite its many “bold” investments, it notably dropped provisions for Clean Slate legislation and further healthcare for immigrants, said advocates.
Hochul said in a statement that she stands by her goal to make New York a safer and more affordable place while “maintaining solid fiscal footing in uncertain times.” Among other things, the budget puts $1 billion into a comprehensive mental healthcare plan, at least $250 million into building 800,000 new homes over the next decade, $337 million into reducing gun violence, $400 million in the MTA, $5.5 billion into climate action, $7.6 billion into child care and $34.5 billion into schools. There’s also $24 billion in a “rainy day” fund.
Advocates and electeds have long championed the Clean Slate Act, which provides bail reforms and wipes old conviction records that present barriers to jobs and housing. Clean Slate was not included at all in the budget.
“New Yorkers deserve real solutions to create stronger, safer communities,” said Katie Schaffer, director of advocacy and organizing at the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA). “Ahead of the final budget, we urge the governor and the legislature to increase investments for community-based programs and to pass the Clean Slate Act, which will allow New Yorkers to support themselves and their families and break cycles of poverty and criminalization.”
Schaffer said funding reentry programs and alternatives to incarceration in the state budget is important but that it is unacceptable to “weaken” bail reform laws. She said the budget would remove the standard for judicial decision-making.
The budget does include the unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers, but the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) said that was “limited and insufficient” at best.
“Every New York family deserves a chance to live without fear and thrive. Governor Hochul’s executive budget for FY24 makes some strides but does not go far enough to meaningfully support immigrant New Yorkers at a time of unprecedented need in our state,” said NYIC Executive Director Murad Awawdeh in a statement.
The budget includes upward of $1 billion in critical services coming for the arrivals, with a breakdown of $767 million toward a city shelter and Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center (HERRC), $137 million for healthcare for those who are eligible, and $25 million in resettlement funding.
Awawdeh noted that there is an increase in the budget for the Office for New Americans and immigration legal services, but said it wasn’t enough. “It falls short of ensuring ongoing support through a right to counsel for the integration and protection of New Yorkers, especially those facing the possibility of permanent separation from their families and communities in immigration court,” said Awawdeh. “Furthermore, her failure to meaningfully address the urgent need for expanded health coverage for all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status is a shocking omission, considering the ongoing pandemic.”
Mayor Eric Adams had a similar outlook on the state budget. He said that while there were many clear victories, there were also “areas of uncertainty that will require deeper review.” Adams celebrated the funding for addressing mental illnesses, the housing crisis, and public safety and recidivism, but took issue with money for the asylum-seeker crisis and the MTA adding a bigger strain to the city’s resources.
“At the same time, our city continues to face significant fiscal and economic challenges that will require additional support from the state,” said Adams in a statement. “I commend Governor Hochul for recognizing the need to provide state resources to assist with the ongoing asylum-seeker crisis, and we look forward to reviewing her proposal in greater detail to ensure New York City gets its fair share of resources. As I’ve said previously, a national crisis requires a national response. We will continue to need our federal and state partners to do their part, and we look forward to working in partnership with them.”
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.
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