Governor Hochul: "This Budget will position us for generations to come. I laid out a bold vision, a way to make New York safer, more affordable, and more livable. It's what I call the New York Dream. And sadly, this dream has been elusive for too many New Yorkers, and that's why this is an historic day for the great State of New York, because we take one step closer to helping millions of New Yorkers achieve that dream of better, more inclusive opportunities for people, making people feel safer when they walk down the streets, where they can find opportunity and success for themselves and their families."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced an agreement to address key priorities in the Fiscal Year 2024 New York State Budget. This bold and fiscally responsible plan makes historic investments in communities across the state and makes New York more affordable, more livable and safer.
With a conceptual agreement in place, the legislative houses are expected to pass bills that will enact these priorities. The total Budget for FY 2024 is currently estimated at $229 billion, based on a preliminary assessment of the negotiated changes to the Executive proposal. The Enacted Budget will hold State Operating Funds spending under 3 percent in FY 2024 and will increase the State's reserves to a record level of 15 percent, as proposed by the Governor in the first months of her administration.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good evening, everyone, and thank you for joining us on this evening. I'm very proud to be here joined by some extraordinary public servants, members of my team who've worked so long and hard — Secretary to the Governor, Karen Persichilli Keogh, Counsel to the Governor, Liz Fine, and Budget Director with years of experience, and we appreciate it very much, Bob Megna for joining us. And today we're here to announce that a conceptual agreement has been reached on the Fiscal Year 24 Budget.
And I want to first of all give a heartfelt thank you to my partners in government, the leader of the Senate, Andrea-Stewart Cousins, the Speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie and their teams. They have worked extraordinary hard as well, and they should be proud of the work they've accomplished. A lot of long nights, a lot of lengthy discussions, difficult discussions, seven days a week, but I am so confident that we've assembled the greatest team to work together to put forth a plan.
There's a blueprint for the future of New York, and I know this Budget process has taken a little extra time, but our commitment to the future of New York was driving this, and I believe today we'll be able to unveil the concepts of a framework that'll reveal that what was important is not a race to a deadline, but a race to the right results.
I'm going to take a little bit of time to talk about how this Budget will position us for generations to come. I laid out a bold vision, a way to make New York safer, more affordable, and more livable. It's what I call the New York Dream. And sadly, this dream has been elusive for too many New Yorkers, and that's why this is an historic day for the great State of New York, because we take one step closer to helping millions of New Yorkers achieve that dream of better, more inclusive opportunities for people, making people feel safer when they walk down the streets, where they can find opportunity and success for themselves and their families. That's what this Budget is all about. And now let's get into the details. And there's a lot of them.
The overall Budget is approximately $229 billion. It is balanced. It supports our bold vision for the future without spending beyond our means, the percent of State operating funds in reserves, and I pointed out last year with my first budget, this was very important to me because you do not know what's going to happen. Now the headwinds that lie before us, the economic challenges that could still unfold with the recession. I want to make sure we protected New Yorkers, and that's why our reserves are still 15 percent.
But, like I said, the economy remains volatile and reminding us why we had to be prudent this year, and we'll have to be prudent heading in the years ahead. I've always said that every New Yorker deserves to live in a community that is safe and peaceful. And I've been laser focused on making that dream become a reality.
I want to start by talking about New York's bail laws. I've always been clear on where I stand on this issue. Overall, bail reform was needed. I support the core of its true premise, that no one, regardless of money, should be incarcerated because they don't have enough. Hues of the same offense as another individual — one goes free, one goes to Rikers, or another jail, simply because they don't have enough money, before they've been determined to be guilty. But I do believe that judges should have more authority to set bail and detain dangerous defendants. Data shows that recent decreases in recidivism for the low-level offenses — that's positive — but increases in recidivism for a defendant's charge with serious crimes. That's why it was very clear that changes need to be made.
I am here to announce that we've made improvements to our bail laws. The agreement removes what is known as the least restrictive means standard, which many judges have said tied their hands. It gives judges discretion. They need to hold violent criminals accountable while still upholding our commitment to a justice system that is fair and accessible to all and also ensuring that poverty is never treated as a crime.
We knew that change in the bail laws was not all we needed to do to keep New Yorkers safe and improve our criminal justice system. That's why we're investing in this Budget $40 million for public defenders to help them retain staff and enhance the services they provide to vulnerable New Yorkers. Finally, also, for the first time in two decades, we're giving a pay increase to assigned attorneys who represent individuals unable to afford their own counsel.
We're also investing in violence prevention and doubling down on what we know works. The Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative, known as GIVE, where we send money to communities — and I've seen this work. I've been out in communities like Rochester and Syracuse where this has been successful. I'm proud to announce the largest investment in this successful program. When I first became Governor, the investment was $6 million. This year it'll be $36 million.
I also want to make sure that our State Police have the resources they need to protect New Yorkers. Increasing our stabilization units, increasing our number of State Police classes, but also making sure that we support our district attorneys as well, ensuring that they have $40 million to do their jobs as well.
When it comes to keeping people safe, there are commonsense places we can start as well. One of them has to do with fixing our mental health system because it is broken, the rates of mental illness have been on the rise, and the pandemic only made matters far worse. Too many people can't get the care they need, and for too long we've underinvested in mental health.
Today marks a reversal in our State's approach — a monumental shift. That's why I'm proud to announce that our Budget accomplishes over $1 billion and makes critical policy changes to finally and fully meet the needs of New Yorkers. That'll include investment to create 1,000 inpatient psychiatric beds to serve more than 10,000 New Yorkers a year. Investing $60 million in capital, $122 million in operating and impact outpatient services, allowing patients to be reintegrated into communities and society, supportive housing, 3,500 units.
We also know that health care often doesn't cover mental health care. So, my Budget, as proposed, will prohibit insurance companies from denying access to critical mental health services. We're also going to focus on children's health, children's mental health. They need services now. You give them the services now, you keep them from needing more serious services in the future.
So, our $30 million investment will help meet the needs of our children and hopefully cut the demand for services by half over the next five years. We're also expanding Medicaid access with a $100 million investment for preventative and primary care. We're making the largest Medicaid rate increase in two decades, investing in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, all to stabilize our state's health care system.
Last year, we invested over $3.9 billion in four years to help our distressed hospitals. This year, we're making an additional $500 million investment to ensure they have the resources they need to provide this care.
But you can't talk about health care without talking about reproductive health care. And as we saw this past month, extremist MAGA judges and legislators won't stop. Just had the overturning of Roe v. Wade. They want to implement a national abortion ban and dismantle reproductive health as we know it. But we remind everyone, this is New York, the birthplace of the Women's Rights Movement. And as long as I'm Governor, this will continue to be a place that is a sanctuary to protect women's rights and abortion remains safe, accessible, and legal.
We're bolstering that commitment with $100 million in new funding to protect reproductive health care and solidify our historic standing as New York's first Safe Harbor State. I'm proposing two pieces of legislation within the Budget — we'll be passing them shortly — increasing access to abortion care for students at public universities and protecting access to over-the-counter contraception at state pharmacies. The legislature recognized the urgency of these bills and passed them already. I look forward to signing them in the coming days.
Now let's turn to another matter. The key to our kids' future is a high-quality education. Last year we worked with legislators and invested over $31 billion in School Aid more than ever before. This year, we're breaking records again, because we have to. Our kids and our teachers still need our help. Kids are still struggling after the pandemic. Our teachers have been through so much. So, to get schools back on track, we're providing $34.5 billion, the largest investment for schools in state history. This includes $2.6 billion in Foundation Aid for a record of $24 billion, delivering on my promise to fully fund that formula for the first time ever.
Now, just to put in context, Foundation Aid was first implemented over 16 years ago. It took this long to help those high-need schools get what they needed. And finally, we're doing that with this Budget today. But also, for kids to be successful in school, they can't sit there with their stomachs growling - they're hungry. They need nutritious food to focus and thrive. The Budget provides $134 million to serve low-income populations, so kids can eat breakfast and lunch at school at no charge at all - regardless of their family income.
We're also increasing the number of charter schools, the zombie schools, to give schools more choice. We want to make sure that children are poised for success when they graduate from high school and giving parents the options they've been asking for.
We're also investing $20 million in early education and high school - P-TECH programs, helping kids earn college credits while they're still in high school. I've seen this work. It's an incredible program and prioritizing high need districts.
But also, I want to make sure, and I've said this before, I want to restore the preeminence of our public higher education system. It's been disinvested in for decades. I want this to be a shining star for all New Yorkers, something we all can be proud of. And that's why we're making, once again, significant investments in SUNY's transformation and CUNY's strategic needs. $2.4 billion for new capital projects, $381 million in capital support, as well as, we're establishing a State matching fund for endowment contributions to provide long-term funding for the university centers.
Also, you think about our kids - we need affordable, accessible child care. As the first mother to lead this state, this is something that's personal to me. I know what happens when you don't have affordable, accessible child care. And so, on behalf of all the parents, this one's for you. We want to make sure that you have what's available to you, because right now, less than 10 percent of parents eligible for child care assistance are actually using those resources. Think about that. The money's been there, the resources have been there, but only 10 percent of eligible parents are taking advantage of this. It's all changing with this Budget. We're expanding eligibility. We're raising the income limit, so we can have 113,000 more families with their children eligible for this assistance.
On top of that, we're lowering the amount of money that parents would have to pay for child care and making sure that we're expanding, once again, for the first time ever, expanding the Child Care Tax Credit to include children under four years old. Up until now, that tax credit has only been available for children five and up.
When you think about young parents, the cost of diapers and formula, it's more expensive for those little ones. So, this is going to help our families in dealing with the affordability crisis that we said we'd addressed. So, we're going to make sure that they have more options and help deal with this by in helping parents any way we can.
And also, let's talk about another way we can deal with the affordability issue. I tackled this, I said, "I'll find any way we can to help reduce the cost of living in our state." The average cost of monthly goods and energy for low-income households has increased by more than 13 percent in the last two years. That's a huge increase for people. It's clear that high inflation is pushing the most vulnerable New Yorkers to the breaking point.
So, starting in 2024, we're changing that. We're raising the minimum wage to $16 in New York City, Long Island and Westchester, $15 elsewhere in the state, with 50 cent increases in both '25 and '26.
But starting in 2027, the minimum wage will increase annually according to the Consumer Price Index. In other words, if costs go up - so will your wages. There are nearly 900,000 minimum wage earners in New York State. More likely women, more likely people of color, and many are single moms. For them, this will be a lifeline for them and protects them from labor exploitation and gives them a measure of security that they've not had until now.
Another area that's really important to me - you know this, I've talked about this a lot - housing. It's been central to my agenda from day one. We have a crisis for far too many New Yorkers. Affordable housing, their rent, their mortgage is out of reach. And we've simply not kept up with demand, and that drives up costs, basic supply and demand, and it prices out middle- and low-income families from the dream of home ownership. That's why I proposed a bold housing plan. And I believe major action is required to meet the scale of this crisis. The legislature saw it differently. They're not ready to commit to the kind of transformative change I proposed. And I know change can be hard, but we're not walking away from this issue, and I won't stop working hard and fighting to make housing more affordable for New Yorkers.
So, I've talked to the leaders, I've committed to working with them. We're together in our desire to do whatever we can to ensure that we've done all we can to increase the supply of housing in the State of New York. I also believe there's more we can do by Executive Action, which will be unfolding publicly in the next few weeks. But one thing I do know, when you look at comparing us to other states that have made the tough decisions, that have made a difference — didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen in three months. In many cases, it took decades. But I'm impatient. We started the discussion. We started the conversation, and people know that I'm a fighter, and I'm going to continue working with anyone who'll roll up their sleeves and help us change the trajectory that our state on is on right now, which is that we do not have enough housing for New Yorkers.
So, we'll work with advocates, legislators, and I know we can do that here and overcome all obstacles. So, let's help the people who are struggling right now, those who fell behind the rent during the pandemic. We're adding $391 million in additional funding. We're expanding the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to make rent relief available for people living in public and subsidized housing. They were left out of the earlier programs based on earlier formulas. We're also focused on helping low-income families, homeowners stay in their homes with $50 million to help them with the cost of home repairs. We're proud of creating a nation-leading program as well to get lead out of kids' homes. And this has been a real driver of disparate outcomes in children's mental health, their academic ability. And that's why it's so important that we reduce lead poisoning in our homes across the state. It's time to do something about it. It's way overdue. So, the State's going to ensure that all rental units before 1980 are inspected for lead every three years. And property owners who don't get rid of this, get rid of the lead, will lose their certificate of occupancy. It's that simple.
Let's talk about something else. The MTA, the lifeblood of New York City. It's rebounding from COVID. Just last week, the MTA set a record for ridership post-COVID of 4 million riders. That's good news. We have been plateaued for a while, but now we're moving ahead. But we still have as a result of the pandemic, the MTA is facing stark financial challenges. The choice was just wait and see what happens, kick the can down the road, or launch a bold strategy of sustainability to show up and ensure the viability of the MTA for years to come. So, working hard, we rolled up our sleeves again and came up with a plan to generate additional revenue for the MTA through a minor increase in the Payroll Mobility Tax for New York City's largest businesses.
We'll provide over $1.1 billion for the MTA. New York City will increase its contribution to paratransit services, support the MTA with an additional $165 million a year, and the MTA will also implement a $400 million a year plan to make their operations more efficient and save money. And with this Budget, commuters in the New York City region will know that this program will not be jeopardized — we're not cutting services, we're not curtailing our investments in this critical, critical piece of infrastructure.
So, I'm also pleased to announce as we encourage more people to take buses, take public transportation, that we're launching a two-year pilot program in New York City to offer free bus service on five different lines, one in each of the boroughs, and the MTA will decide where the lucky areas are.
Let's talk about something else, rising energy costs, many, many families — again, we talk about affordability — low-income families are facing energy increases of 20 to 30 percent higher than just one year ago. There's no way they could have budgeted for that. With this Budget, we're insulating vulnerable households from exorbitant energy bills and building a more sustainable future. We're investing $400 million to deliver immediate utility relief for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers and provide low-income households with resources to upgrade their appliances, insulation, and heating systems. And that'll go hand in hand with our efforts, with our nation leading effort to address climate change.
Everyone knows we've seen the effects of climate change, the storms, the hurricanes coming to New York, record snow amounts. We're seeing the effects every single day, not just here, but across the nation. Our Budget prioritizes nation leading climate action that meets this moment with ambition and the commitment it demands.
So, we're dedicating $500 million to build clean water infrastructure that our communities need, bringing our total investment to $5 billion over the last few years. We're also directing $400 million from the Environmental Protection Fund to preserve open space and advanced conservation across New York. And we're going to be the first state in the nation to advance zero admission new homes and buildings beginning in 2025 for small buildings, 2028 for large buildings. And we have more to do, and we're going to be working with the legislature, after we finalize the Budget as well as getting through the end of the session, but here's a quick preview of what we're doing.
A lot of funding's going to localities to generate capital projects in the pipeline, but here we go. I said I would do the hard things in my State of the State. I do not back down from a fight, not now, not ever. We've accomplished a great deal. We've had a lot of intense conversations, but I believe that New Yorkers will be proud of this Budget. It serves so many different needs and helps so many different people, and that's why I'm proud of it. And I also know that I said I'd make our state safer, more affordable, more livable for New Yorkers of today and tomorrow. Now that we're reaching the end of this process, I'm confident that's exactly what this Budget delivers years from now. People will look back at our time, just still coming out of the pandemic.
What did we accomplish? Did we accomplish what this moment called for? Did we make a difference in the lives of others? We're going to be able to answer that question. Yes, we invested when we needed to invest and let people know they matter, that regardless of where they live in the State of New York, we understand their concerns.
They're worried about their safety of their families. They're worried about paying their bills, paying for child care, good education. So now we're building a path of shared prosperity for all New Yorkers, and I'm very proud of this Budget. Thank you very much.