Governor Kathy Hochul finally announced this Tuesday night (May 2) that a budget agreement had been struck with the state legislature. They approved the $229 billion budget after the deadline was pushed back from the last month, mostly due to contentions over bail reform rollbacks. 

“We needed to bolster an economy that builds from the middle out and pulls from the lowest rung to the top,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on the budget floor. “That meant taking historic steps to ease the pain that everyday households have been enduring for years, and creating new paths for prosperity in every community and for every family.”

Stewart-Cousins hailed the state budget for prioritizing funds for public education, low personal income tax rates, $100.7 million to fund abortion providers, $1 billion in mental health services, efforts to combat climate change, $1 billion toward improving healthcare access, expanding the Child Tax Credit, affordable childcare, and free school lunches. 

The budget also succeeds in allocating $1 billion toward aiding the asylum-seeker crisis in New York City and raising the minimum wage by $2 for workers over the next three years.

“We fought hard for the issues that are on the top of New Yorkers’ minds as we face a slowing economy and recover from the pandemic,” said Assemblymember and Majority Whip Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. “However, our work is not over in Albany.”

The enacted budget will hold state operating funds spending under 3% and increase the state’s reserves to 15%. The 2023–24 budget is the largest in state history.

Of course, the budget fell short in a few areas, such as affordable housing and bail reform.

“I supported the fundamental premise behind bail reform to say that [when] two people [are] accused of the same offense, one should not go to jail and one [be] sent home because they didn’t have money. That was addressed years ago and I stand with that,” said Hochul in a PIX11 interview on Wednesday morning. “Now we have factors to look at.”

Hochul said she set out to restore judge discretion in bail reforms, saying that the “least restrictive means” caveat was tying their hands. She said she understands the “emotion” about the topic but her main concern is public safety, a move some lawmakers staunchly disagreed with. 

The very vocal Assemblymember Latrice Walker went on a hunger strike during budget negotiations and said, in a statement via Twitter, that she voted no on the budget because it categorically failed to deliver on promises of public safety. 

“I will not be among those subjecting more people to the trauma that comes with being locked up pretrial,” said Walker, “I will not be among those who send people to death’s door at Rikers, where people can wait more than a year for trial. I will not be among those who are content with sending our criminal justice system backward.”

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said that in addition to being late, the state budget is “disconnected” on the issue of public safety, housing, the cap on charter schools, and reviving zombie charters. 

“It took a month to roll back bail reform yet again, ultimately imprisoning more Black and brown New Yorkers pre-trial rather than doing the hard work to actually produce lasting public safety,” said Williams in a statement. 

Williams also said that all the housing support was removed from the budget, whether that meant the production of deeply affordable housing in collaboration with communities or the essential counterpart of tenant protections to keep New Yorkers in those homes, even as extreme rent hikes are still being considered.

Other big budget investments are $347 million in gun violence prevention initiatives and $170 million to support the implementation of discovery reform for prosecutors and defenders, among other things, said the governor’s office. There are provisions for cracking down on illegal gray market cannabis shops, including levying fines, closing those shops down, and more enforcement. It also puts $30 million toward combating hate crimes and anti-Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) violence. 

By adjusting the “payroll mobility tax” for large businesses, the budget also assists the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in generating $1.1 billion annually and $300 million in one-time state aid. New York City will still have to contribute $165 million to MTA services.
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

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