NYC Public Advocate's Statement On The State Budget Deal

April 8th, 2022

Press Release

"This budget was reached after a historic delay, and for billionaires and Bills owners, it was well worth the wait. When the governor unveiled her preliminary budget proposal, I was concerned that it relied on temporary federal investment and short-term projects, rather than the sustained revenue and long-term programs that New Yorkers need. While this budget includes some key priority initiatives, thanks to dedicated advocates and leaders, last-minute additions to the process by the governor have consumed both immense resources and valuable focus, preventing some of these programs from going far enough. Not only does the final budget exclude any revenue raising measures from the wealthiest New Yorkers, which creates the potential for even positive initiatives to be cut in out-years, it includes a massive giveaway to a Buffalo billionaire to build a new stadium.

"The budget also weakens the criminal justice reforms of 2019 – which the governor admits and the data reinforces are not the cause of the recent rise in crime. Pulling back from progress, conceding to loud, fearmongering voices, is a move away from justice and toward criminalizing lower income New Yorkers of more color.

"I want to commend and thank the advocates and elected leaders who pushed for progressive causes in this budget, and there are several positive investments won – it’s critically important to acknowledge victories won after months and years of organizing and advocacy. Aid to schools at all levels, including for mental healthcare, is a critical investment. A full restoration of TAP funding will help make education more accessible, and additional accessible ERAP funding will help some New Yorkers stay in their homes while the governor inexplicably refuses to pass Good Cause. Residential owner assistance will help people to stabilize through pandemic recovery, although not nearly enough is included, and legalizing to-go cocktails will provide an important revenue source for small businesses still struggling. 

"It’s equally critical to acknowledge areas where the investment was important but insufficient to meet the need or the moment. The state’s investment in gun violence prevention is welcome, but falls far short of the needed resources to strengthen true public safety. Expanding healthcare coverage for undocumented seniors is a significant step, but leaves many New Yorkers without critical coverage. Similarly, undocumented youth are excluded from the state’s investments in childcare – while the funding for childcare represents major progress for working families, it is not truly universal if many immigrant families are left out. Additionally, in the state’s care economy, advocates fought for and secured a raise that is both important in acknowledging that a home care crisis exists, and is inadequate in addressing that crisis – is it not the fair pay workers demanded and deserved.

"Finally, as important as what’s in the budget is what’s been left out. 421-a and its potential replacements which are the same in all but name and number, were rightly rejected from this deal, and we will continue to make sure that these gifts to developers with no real return are not a part of New York’s affordable housing plan. Unfortunately, any real progress on affordable housing such as the voucher program have also been left out – as was the utility relief so many desperately need. Excluded workers are excluded in this budget, as are popular, urgent reforms like the Clean Slate Act. While some significant increases were made in climate funding, the overall shortfall in investment and the suspension of the gas tax will ultimately create significant environmental harm, while regressively failing to provide substantial support or relief for New Yorkers most in need. 

"In proposing her budget in January, the governor invoked the New Deal – but the deal that was reached in this year’s budget feels old, following the same patterns as past administrations and falling short in key areas. Both through the city budget and the remainder of the state legislative session, we must work to address critical gaps and invest in the New Yorkers this budget leaves behind."

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