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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Agreement on FY 2023 New York State Budget


Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced an agreement to address key priorities in the Fiscal Year 2023 New York State Budget. This bold and fiscally responsible plan makes historic investments in communities across the State that will bring relief to New Yorkers recovering from the pandemic and launch New York’s economic comeback.

The State’s reserves in this plan will increase to a record level of 15 percent of State Operating Funds spending by FY 2025, as proposed by the Governor in her Executive Budget.

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VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

Good afternoon. The long-awaited day has arrived. But before we get started in discussing the critically important budget for the State of New York, I want to recognize that this is a historic day for the people of this country. Within the last few hours, the Senate, the United States Senate, has done the right thing, and confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. And as the first black woman to serve in this capacity, in our nation’s history, I cannot overstate the earth shattering magnitude of this moment. From this day forward, little girls, those today who look up at their television and all over this country going forward, will always know that that is where a woman of color belongs. 

So, this is an important day for all of us. And I think it’s important that we acknowledge the historic significance. But talking about historic significance, we will turn to what is a historic budget as well. I want to acknowledge the people who joined me here today, but I also recognize my team in a couple of minutes. 

Robert Mujica, the Director of the New York State Division of Budget. We had a lot of conversations, got to know each other very well through this process. We’re still talking to each other, right, Robert? Okay. It’s all good. And I want to thank you for bringing the historic perspective, the depth of knowledge, and your entire team who continue to work through the night tonight to wrap this up, but I want to thank them as well. 

Also want to recognize my Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin. Extraordinary through this process. His life’s experiences, his knowledge, his understanding of the institutions here in Albany were indispensable in helping us achieve this budget. As well as Karen Persichilli Keogh, my Secretary. And I want to thank her for rebounding. As you’ve heard, most of my budget negotiation team kind of went down for the count. And as we wish them well on zoom calls, they persevered with fevers and illness. Some of them are still doing – never relenting in their quest to help us achieve this very moment.  

So, to take a little extra time, I appreciate everybody’s patience, but I will tell you it was worth the time to get this right for New Yorkers. And I want to also in this moment, to share where we are. We have come to a conceptual agreement in the fiscal year 23 budget. It has been a phenomenally collaborative process from day one when I stood in this very room seven and a half months ago. I said, we were going to do things differently. And that is why you didn’t see the games played out in the press, the one-upmanship, the scoring points to get the upper hand.  

I wanted to make sure that we did it in a way that people knew was respectful and to be able to still call them not just my partners, but my friends. I want to thank the Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, for her incredible work representing her conference, her caucus, her legislative body so very well. As well as our Speaker, Carl Heastie. Again, tremendous advocate and champion for the people he represents as the Speaker of the New York State Assembly. 

Also, I wanted to announce some other individuals. Some who are still recovering. Robin Chappelle-Golston, the Executive Deputy Secretary. Liz Fine, Counsel to the Governor. Kathryn Garcia, Director of State Operations. And Micah Lasher, the Director of Policy. So, all these individuals have been instrumental in helping us achieve this accomplishment today. 

I also said, as I stood here seven and a half months ago, that every decision I make will go through one lens. Is it good for New Yorkers? Is it the best thing we can do for New Yorkers? And that has always been my guiding principle. And when I proposed my vision back in January, on a much colder day, I said that this moment is a once in a generation opportunity to not just bring relief to families and put more money in people’s pockets. But to also make historic investments in our people and on our state. And that’s exactly what we’re working on day and night for weeks now, to craft a budget that does just that. So again, I’m forever grateful to the effort that went into this document, which will be wrapped up on the next day and a half or so, hopefully sooner. 

So I’d like to talk about what we’ve agreed on so far. I know you’ve heard from our leaders, that’s great. We’ve been in constant communication. The budget overall is 220 billion dollars. It is balanced and it pairs a bold vision with a fiscally responsible approach. Very important to me. We are making historic investments that will make differences in people’s lives right now. But also more importantly, these are legacy achievements that’ll be noted for years to come. 

Critically important based on how we saw ourselves become very vulnerable to a pandemic two years ago, last month. We realized that the federal government bailed us out. Had it not been for the leadership of people late last year, President Biden, as well as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York’s own, we would not have had the resources to get out of a very difficult situation. 

With that knowledge, I knew that I had to ensure, we all had to ensure, that should this happen again, similar circumstances or any cataclysmic event occurs, we cannot always rely on Washington to bail us out. That is why we are depositing, leading up to a historic amount of money, a record 15 percent of state operating funds will be in reserves. The four percent reserves that I inherited did not prepare us for the uncertainties of the future. I balanced a lot of budgets in my municipal work, 14 years on a local government, but every one of us, every year, we achieved those numbers to ensure we had the ability to be resilient and be able to fight back against whatever the winds would bring us.  

But I would say don’t take that fiscal prudes for a lack of ambition. We’re showing that we can tackle the big issues facing New Yorkers. Especially the issues that many of our families are enduring right now, the issues that stress them out at night and cause them hard to get back to sleep when they wake up and think about the pile of bills on the kitchen table. So let’s talk about some of those issues.

Again, many families have suffered like that for a time, but everything has been hyper exacerbated because of the persistent pandemic over these last two years. And on top of all of this inflation had already started creeping up.  The price of milk was going up, the price of houses were going up, rental units were going up, everything was just going up and up.

And now we have the gas. We understand what happened. We understand the necessity of stopping Russian oil from coming into our reserves. And I applaud everything President Biden has done to show that we are willing to stand with the Ukrainian people as they’re under assault by a war criminal. But now we have to look at our people and meet them where they are right now at this time of great stress.

This budget will put more money back in people’s pockets. We all wanted to make sure that that was the outcome, and lift those who have been hardest hit. Therefore we are providing tax relief for middle-class families, as well as a new property tax credit for middle income households, an investment of $2.2 billion, that’ll help approximately 2.5 million homeowners.

This overall the budget will give tax relief to 6.1 million homeowners. And as we tackle rising fuel prices, something that was constantly at the table as I spoke to the leaders about what we can do to give people just a break. People just feel like they’re never getting ahead.

And they have to know that their elected leaders have listened to them. That’s why we are going to suspend, from June 1st to December 31st, the state’s sales tax on fuel, which results in an estimated $585 million in relief for working families and businesses across our state.

On top of that, we’re already having conversations with counties, asking them if they will consider doing the same. So the cumulative effect is very impactful for people as they go to the pump and have that sense of a stress in their chest when they think about the cost of the gas, as they try to figure out if they’re going to be able to afford it for the day.

Our small businesses have well, have been hit so hard by this pandemic. Sadly, many did not return. Small businesses, especially restaurants, just couldn’t hold on during that time. And we hear their voices, especially as I’ve traveled across the state during the pandemic and afterward. Many companies, many small businesses have had to make tough financial decisions just to keep their workers safe under rules that we put in place because the pandemic was not over.

And so we have to keep them alive. They add the personality and the charm to our communities. We have to make sure they keep the doors open. So we’re launching a new tax relief program to help offset COVID-19 related costs. And we know what those are, whether it’s getting a different environment in the workplace to make it safe, amassing different equipment and protective materials, testing kits – which are very critically important – home testing kits, as well as any changes they had to make to their exterior.

You know, we saw the advent of many outdoor dining facilities that on their taxes they’ll be able to take a tax credit, offset those costs, again, putting more money back in their pockets for expenses that they never could have foreseen.

This is a $250 million program to help bring additional relief for small businesses, but also we want to continue bringing relief to those mom and pop small businesses and local restaurants.

I was a waitress for a long time, five years, and I know how hard it is to hang on. They really bore the brunt of shutdowns and pandemic restrictions. So effective upon signing the budget, which I hope happens really soon, we’ll immediately legalize the sale of to-go alcoholic drinks.

First round is for the LCA. We’ll have them shipped up there, but make sure you have some food with it as well. I think all the teams that have been working literally around the clock, they are looking forward to this, having a little bit of relief at the same time, helping our businesses that have been struggling for a long time. And I think this will be a very popular change for the people who wondered why it went away.

Let’s reflect back on how the pandemic changed our perspective of the healthcare system overall. The healthcare system depends on a strong, stable and equitable health care system. And at the very foundation of this are healthcare workers.

And we now have a crisis where healthcare workers who’ve been asked to do the impossible, literally two years after it started still having to deal with patents and wondering why people aren’t vaccinated to protect themselves and just dealing with so much stress in their own lives.

We’ve lost a lot of them. We cannot continue to have the healthcare services that New Yorkers deserve under these circumstances. So to stop the hemorrhaging of healthcare workers, let’s start by stop talking about we owe them a debt of gratitude and pay them some of that debt. That means dedicating in this budget $1.2 billion for frontline healthcare worker bonuses.

And also, we’ve heard a lot about our home health care aides and workers. They’ve been through a lot as well. My own father is being taken care of by a number of people around the clock, and we know how critically important they are to families and their sense of security. So we’ll provide nearly $7.4 billion to support a wage increase, a $3 wage increase for home healthcare aids. And that’s just the beginning.

We’re also going to invest $2.4 billion to improve our healthcare infrastructure, as well as dedicate $3.9 million in funding over four years to help our hospitals.

Many of them lost their revenues when the elective surgeries were shut down, many of them had to incur extraordinary costs. Some of them are never reimbursed for people who did not have insurance, but needed healthcare, especially in our urban areas. That’s an 88 percent increase over the prior four years.

So together this complete package worked out with our leaders will serve the objective of attracting more healthcare workers to deal with the shortage we’re facing, as well as we have an ambitious plan to not say that the status quo is sufficient.

You heard me talk about this back in January. I want to grow the workforce by 20 percent over the next five years. And we have a lot of specific details related to that, which we’ll be announcing shortly and how we will actually accomplish that. That’s not just a goal, we believe it’s very achievable.

Talk about other areas of our state that were hit so hard by the pandemic and are still reeling from the effects. Our teachers, our schools, our kids, and their weary parents who tried for a long time to keep it all together. Imagine being a teacher who’s also a parent, trying to teach your children remotely at the same time your kids are trying to learn from their own instructors.

We acknowledge that we also know that they need resources to rebuild. So we have a $31.5 billion program in total school aid. And I’ll break that out for you. That includes a $2.1 billion increase compared to last year. Also, we heard a lot about litigation involving foundation aid, because you know, I settled the legislation months ago and now we’re making sure that that continues it’s sustainable. So, we have $1.5 billion increase in foundation aid.

We also know how important full-day kindergarten is, pre-kindergarten as well. So, we are starting to invest even more, more robustly than had been done in the past, and we’re putting $125 million in additional funding for full day pre-kindergarten as well as a $451 million increase in all other school aid programs.

And within that, we believe that children will benefit from mental health professionals in the school setting. I think there’s a lot of parents who never thought their children would need this and they do. We could not have foreseen the effect of isolation on our children, whether they’re toddlers or whether they’re teenagers. It’s had a reeling effect. We need to help them heal, we need to help them come back and give our teachers and our schools the resources to deal with it, because this is not what they signed up for. They’re doing magnificent, but they just want to get back to teaching and not have to deal with all these other issues, so we honor them every single day as we do our healthcare workers.

Also, let’s talk about higher education, investments in higher education. Again, you’ve heard my family story, how the opportunity to get a higher education while he worked at the steel plant by day lifted my father and mother out of their circumstances. Also, we know that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of saying they’re going to be a full-time student. I’ve heard so many stories of students who work a semester, set aside the money, make the tuition payment the next semester, go back to school, back and forth, back and forth and we wonder why they can’t get a two-year degree in two years or a four year degree in four years.

Let’s help those people out. This budget includes for the first time ever, $150 million to expand New York’s Tuition Assistance Program to cover part time students. That’ll benefit right now, at least 75,000 students. So, we’re going to unleash the power of higher education to lift people out of their circumstances, and also to stop the disinvestment in SUNY and CUNY, therefore we have a $400 million effort to help those institutions for their operations as well as making sure that we support our teachers and school workers as well.

The children who are not quite school-age, those who are not in pre-K, those parents who desperately need childcare, I am proud, as a mother who had to leave a job because I could not find childcare many years, proud to announce that we’re investing over $7 billion over four years into childcare. Let me repeat that, $7 billion over four years into childcare. That’s more than double the level of New York’s current support for childcare subsidies. It’s broadening the eligibility substantially for childcare options for families and through our investments, we’ll be able to open the door to childcare for more than half of the young people in New York. And that is spectacular.

There are still people reeling from the effects of what the pandemic did to them when they lost their income, fearful about losing their ability to make their rent payments, getting behind in utilities, all these bills that just keep adding up. So, we’re going to continue. And as I put forth in my initial budget, we said we would set aside $2 billion to deal with these one time, this year, pandemic related crises. And I’m grateful again for the leaders to help us shape that within put from their members. Instead of me dictating where it should go, we approached it much more collaboratively.

So, working with them, $2 billion in recovery funding includes $800 million for a continuation of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program known as ERAP. $250 million to help people with utility arrears. People got behind in those utilities. $125 million in homeowner and landlord assistance who are also heard as well, not able to make their mortgage payments, as well as $25 million in one-time non-recurring investments. So, that’s a comprehensive approach to dealing with the money we put on the table that was very thoughtfully allocate by our collective efforts with both bodies.

And we talked about how expensive things are, housing. This is not new, but it has gotten much, much worse. And that is why I announced in my budget, a $25 billion five-year housing plan that will create and preserve over 100,000 affordable homes. And we talk about people in need of mental health services and supportive services, this includes 10,000 homes with support services for vulnerable populations.

Also, this is the part where we’re going to have a lot more fun and we start getting out there, springtime, with all the construction projects. I know that the building trades and our construction workers are very excited about, again, I use the word historic a lot because it is historic. This is a record $32.8 billion in a five-year transportation infrastructure plan.

This is the largest investment in transportation infrastructure in the history of our state. It’s also a 40 percent increase over the prior five-year plan. We’re not just rebuilding our infrastructure overall, we’re also finding out how to adapt to climate change, making our infrastructure more resilient.

So looking also at our vulnerabilities, we’ve talked about this. I announced this during climate week, last September when I was fairly new on the job, but I also knew that $3 billion that was out there as part of a bond act, I said, I don’t think that’s going to be enough. We had just come through the rages of not one, but two hurricanes, my first few days in office. We saw what can happen, how devastating it is. We have to build back resiliency around our communities and protect them.  

So we’ve added another billion dollars, actually $4.2 billion, so $1 billion on top of last year’s $3 billion, my additions with the concurrence of the Legislature, $4.2 billion in the landmark what we call the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, as well as in addition to that, $400 million in Environmental Protection Fund to support climate change mitigation projects.  

And let’s talk about clean energy. I have probably done more clean energy announcements than anybody in this country. I’m constantly out there talking about these investments in our green energy economy overall is going to create 10,000 new jobs, which I’m very excited about. So it comes down to the training programs, the workforce development programs, making sure that people can transition from their current jobs if they need to, into transitioning to clean energy jobs. 

So we are going to be following up on my promise to have a $500 million investment, especially in our offshore wind opportunity. This is very exciting. I have seen what we did here at the port of Albany, where we can literally manufacture component parts that are being used in offshore wind off of the shores of Long Island and creating jobs all over the state, creating this supply chain, which is non-existent right now. 

And if you also notice we’ve been more reliant upon foreign supply chains. We saw the disruption when our ports were shut down, not that many months ago because of the congestion. So let’s stop being vulnerable to what’s happening in the geopolitical world and other countries. Let’s make the component parts right here in the state of New York and create a new industry with these investments. And I’m very excited about this. And New York State will become and will continue to be the offshore wind capital for many years to come.  

Also, I keep hearkening back to what I said months ago. It seems like it was yesterday. I said that ethical governing would be a hallmark of my administration. That we’d changed the culture here in Albany. I’m proud that this budget builds on that work. So let’s talk about ethics oversight. One way we can restore trust in government is to address the existing system. I’ll be repealing the structurally broken Joint Commission on Public Ethics, and instead replacing it with a transparent and accountable commission on ethics and lobbying in government.  

The commissioner made up of 11 members nominated by the governor, Senate, assembly, newly added comptroller and attorney general, and they can make recommendations to law school deans or their designee. So there’s another layer of scrutiny. Instead of people handpicking their appointees, the law school deans can give their approval or denial. It is not a rubber stamp. That is a different way of doing it. The process of getting here was collaborative. And I want to thank many of the good government organizations who partnered with us to achieve major ethics overhaul, as well as including that votes are subject to FOIL and opens meetings law. More changes on the way. We’ll be explaining how that works shortly. 

Another way to improve our transparency and accountability is to enhance the database of deals. A lot of questions about Empire State Development and deals. Let’s put a spotlight on that. Let’s make sure that the public and the media have access to that information. Audit of ESD tech, Empire State Development tax expenditures to analyze cost benefits, and also boosting MTA’s transparency. All of those were talked about and negotiated in her part of the budget.  

Another area we’re going to be talking about is public safety. We have heard loud and clear that there’s a lot of stress. People are anxious. I addressed this in January an it’s only gotten worse. A very basic human need is to feel safe and secure for yourself and your family and your parents. I mean that evaporates, that shatters the foundation that every person needs to have in order to go forth and have a life where you can focus on your work, your family, other objects. We have to establish that foundation of security once again, and we can do it while protecting the rights of individuals. 

And so we are looking at factors when a judge sets bail. This has been an issue. This will now include a defendant’s history of gun use and whether the crime involved was a serious one, would it cause harm to people. And I want to say, as I mentioned in an op-ed that I wrote with the lieutenant governor just a few short weeks ago, as we explained our objectives in tackling this very complicated issue that has a lot of feeling associated with it on both sides: We’re not here to undo the progress that was made in the past. Never been my objective, never will be. What I also said, we have to realize there are areas where improvements can and need to be made. And so to the New Yorkers who are concerned about the rise in crime, we have put forth a comprehensive package that again achieves and continues the progress we’ve made in the past to make sure our criminal justice system is fair. 

And we are not moving backwards. We are moving forward with a thoughtful approach. We’ll be protecting victims of domestic violence and hate crimes. We’ll close loopholes and the discovery law that led to the unnecessary dismissal of too many cases. We’re going to allow police to make arrest for hate crimes. As I mentioned, let’s talk about bail again. We are now for the first time going to allow judges to set bail for gun charges that were previously subject only to release. Also adding factors that a judge must consider. As I mentioned, closing some problematic loopholes on Raise the Age and discovery. Making Kendra’s law more effective -all in the interest of making a safer and more just New York.  

Importantly now, we also have to address the increase in gun trafficking. You’ll be seeing reports in a matter of days of the work that’s been done by the joint interstate commission that I established in January to have collaboration between our major cities in New York and in the Northeast Boston, New York City, State Police, as well as nine states who are participating in this effort. You’ll be seeing those numbers shortly.  

We also had to change the law to make it easier to crack down and prosecute illegal gun sales. We also have to stop something that was mentioned in the news this morning, the cycle of repeat offenders. We have to allow police to be able to arrest those who repeatedly commit serious crimes, and rather than just receiving a desk appearance. And we also have to make more repeat offenses eligible for bail. But also there’s an obligation on our part to, not just make those kinds of changes, but to balance the other side of the equation as well.  

Invest in resources to those who need it most. Invest in the mental health infrastructure to give people what they need. Provide resources to the District Attorneys who are absolutely overwhelmed with responsibilities that are now before them and public defenders. So working together, they can ensure a more perfect and more fair system of justice. So these are meaningful and significant changes to our public safety laws. There’s much more detail, which we can outline for you on paper. We look forward to doing that, but it’s an important step for giving our local leaders the changes that are needed to make our communities, their communities as well, safer. But we’re not stopping there.

We also have to talk about gun violence disruption. Not just taking the guns out, but what is going on in these communities? Who are the interveners? Who are the people that could be the disruptors? We’re putting $224 million to fund gun violence prevention programs. So when people find themselves in the criminal justice system, particularly our young people, that they are guided by people who perhaps had the same experience themselves, to help them find a path out. That is our objective here, to stop that cycle, give them other opportunities. And that’s going to be very focused on. We’re going to continue focusing on with our law enforcement and community-based organizations, tripling the state guns violence intelligence resources, as well as tripling our investments in these gun disruptor outreach programs.

We’re also adding a $13 million to expand the use of community stabilization units. $20 million to respond to the regional needs in the aftermath of gun violence. What people have forgotten, what happens to a community when there has been a shooting in that community, or a constant sound of gun shooting, and you hear the stories of 12 year olds and children, who’ve lost their lives, just innocently sitting in a vehicle or on their front porch or in a carriage? This has an effect on people’s psyche, and we can no longer ignore the impact on communities. They need a sense of security as well. Everyone does. Let’s focus on that. So these are bold steps. They are thoughtful steps. There was a lot of passion behind the discussion. And again, I am very proud that we’re able to work through this collaboratively with our leadership, with a lot of input from their members, as well as our partners in the community. And we’re going to work to continue to restore New York’s sense of safety.  

We’re going to continue to work on final language. The next few hours, the end is near. But there’s also items because of the intense amount of time involved in dealing with public safety, which was, you know, a high priority. We also have some urgent items that need to be addressed before the end of the session. We will have time to do that. To address affordable housing, to address mayoral control. We’ll have time to address clean slate language, which I had proposed in my budget initially, which we want to make sure gets done.  

And I’ll close with this. During my State Of The State, I called for a new version of the American Dream. A better, fairer, more inclusive version that I called the New York Dream. This budget is a blueprint for the future. There’s an embodiment of that dream. And not only are we going to recover from the ravages of a pandemic, we’re going to emerge from it even stronger. That was my promise to you then. And now, with this budget, in the final hours, I know that this budget is going to be part of what’s going to lead us forward. And we will have with this budget, and the relationships that were cemented working through this process, in a collaborative, respectful way. We will now be able to usher in a new era for New York, where everyone is treated equally and fairly, access to the same opportunities to prosper. And we are going to continue when we leave here, working around the clock to achieve that dream as a reality for all New Yorkers.

Thank you very much.

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