After an additional month of negotiations and debate, New York State enacted a budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. It is often said that a budget is not just a list of numbers, but a statement of values. While not everything the Legislature asked of the Governor made it into the final budget, the final spending and investment plan should improve the lives of all New Yorkers.
These are some highlights from the Fiscal Year 2023-34 Budget:
Every public school district in New York will be fully funded for the first time since the State adopted the Foundation Aid formula in 2007.
This year’s $2.6 billion increase brings total Foundation Aid up to $24 billion, and it couldn’t have come at a more critical time, as the 2% cap on year-to-year increases has left our districts struggling to keep up with the rate of inflation. There is more work to be done to make sure the formula is equitable, which we hope to address for the 2024-25 fiscal year, but this year’s increase represents a significant stride for our schools and our children.
The increases in Foundation Aid funding makes a big difference in the overall funding increases to almost all of our school districts. The 2023-24 school aid increases for each of our school districts are as follows:
The education budget also provides $135 million to expand free school meal programs by up to 300,000 more students, $115 million for Schools for the Blind and Deaf (4201 Schools), and an increase of $150 million for Universal Prekindergarten (UPK). The Child Tax Credit will be extended to families with children under 4 years old
There will be no tuition increase this year for New York’s SUNY and CUNY students, with the budget’s increase of $281 million in operating aid. The budget provides an additional $3 billion in much-needed capital funding for the two systems. As a CUNY graduate myself, I was determined to see that our public universities — which make the difference in so many lives and in our communities — continue to provide affordable, quality educational opportunities to our residents.
The State is making a significant new commitment to health programs, facilities, and care providers. These are led by increases of nearly $395 million for Medicaid hospital reimbursements, $890 million to create 3,500 new mental health residential units, $216 million for nursing home and assisted living programs, and $324 million for a 4% Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for human services providers.
The health budget also establishes the Daniel’s Law Task Force, to identify ways the State can better care for individuals in mental health and substance-use crises, and provides $34 million for youth mental health programs, including $10 million to fund suicide prevention programs for high-risk youth.
The Governor’s Housing Compact and Transit-Oriented Development proposals were removed from the budget. The Housing Compact as proposed would have created more housing stock without addressing the need for affordable housing; Transit-Oriented Development would have overridden local zoning laws to fast-track high-density luxury development. Instead, housing policy will be negotiated as part of the regular legislative process, outside of the budget.
To help keep New Yorkers housed and to promote home ownership, $1.1 billion has been allocated to rental assistance programs, including $391 million for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and $25 million for a new First-Time-Homeowner program to help qualifying families cover down payments and closing costs. The budget also provides $50 million for eviction prevention legal services, and $60 million in RESTORE-NY funding to help municipalities revitalize both commercial and residential properties.
One of our biggest environmental accomplishments this year is the phasing out of gas service in all new buildings constructed after 2028. (New buildings under seven stories will be fully electric after 2025.) This will not require anyone who currently owns a gas appliance to retrofit their home with an electric appliance. However, the State has set aside $400 million for those who opt to retrofit their homes with electric appliances to reduce their carbon footprint.
The budget provides $500 million for clean-water infrastructure, $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, $200 million to expand the Energy Affordability Program, and $200 million to support NYSERDA’s EmPower Plus program for energy-efficiency upgrades. It also authorizes the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to build renewable energy projects to fill the gaps in meeting State climate goals.
This year, we will see an increase of $100 million for local roads and bridges. $60 million will go to the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and $40 million to State Route NY, which reimburses municipalities for capital projects on state touring routes. It is funding for which I had most strongly advocated, and which Assembly Speaker Heastie included in the Assembly’s One-House Budget Bill, and it brings the State’s total allocation for local roads and bridges to $1.3 billion.
With regard to public transportation, a reallocation of casino licensing fees will provide $1.15 billion in new funding to the troubled MTA — preventing an increase in the payroll mobility tax on our suburbs. The MTA will also receive $165 million in new revenues from New York City paratransit, $70 million for frequency and security enhancements, and $65 million to minimize a proposed fare hike, as well as a one-time subsidy of $300 million. An additional $15 million has been allocated to a zero-fare bus pilot program for one free bus line in each borough.
The most contested issue between the Legislature and Governor was bail reform, with the outcome being the removal of “least restrictive means” language from the law; this will allow judges more discretion in deciding how to ensure defendants return to court for their trial. An increase to $170 million in total discovery funding will help ensure more accurate outcomes in legal cases, as should $40 million for New York State Aid to Defense and $20 million for immigrant legal and other services. More than $110 million has been allocated to anti-gun violence initiatives, $30 million to combat bias crime and harassment, and $6.5 million to rape crisis centers.
To offset inflation, the State will increase the minimum wage to $17/hour in New York City and Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties by 2026, and to $16/hour in the rest of the state. Future increases will be indexed to the rate of inflation, with any pause lasting no more than two consecutive years. As mentioned above, human services providers will receive a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) of 4% out of consideration the higher levels of demand their jobs entail. While these rate increases are less than the Legislature had sought, they will bring some financial relief to our essential workers.
The Westchester delegation worked together to restore funding in the budget to Choice Matters, El Centro Hispano, Latino U College Access (LUCA), and other local not-for-profit organizations and programs.
These allocations include:
* Greenburgh Central 7 received a smaller amount than neighboring school districts, however it met their expectation for a 3% increase in 2023-24.
** The decrease for Pocantico Hills Schools is a correction that brings its funding in line with the Foundation Aid formula.
Should you want to review the budget in greater detail, please go to FY 2024 Enacted Budget Overview on the New York State website.
If you have any questions about the budget, or any other concerns, feel free to contact my Albany office at 518-455-5753 or Tarrytown district office at 914-631-1605, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assemblymember 92nd District