NYS Governor Kathy Hochul: “This is a moment of a great possibility, a once-in-a-generation chance to reconsider what is possible for our state. And this really is the beginning of New York’s next great comeback. I declared a New Era for New York, and it continues today.”
This is a highlighted transcript of New York State Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget message:
Two weeks ago in my State of the State speech, I proposed a whole new era for New York. One in which my administration, my fellow statewide elected officials and the legislature will finally work together to deliver for New Yorkers. But before I deliver our positive budget trends, let’s look at another trend, which is increasingly positive.
Today, positive COVID cases are at 22,312 down 75% from our peak of 90,132 on January 7th, less than two weeks ago and that’s incredible. And cases dropped 34% in the last seven days while cases across the rest of the United States went down only by five percent. Our positivity rate is down to 12.48%, nearly an 11% drop from the peak on January 2nd and hospitalizations continue to trend downward as well.
So we hope to close the books on this winter surge soon. So we can turn the page and open the book on our 2023 budget outlook and focus on the post pandemic future. As I said, since I took office 147 days ago, my top priority is to confront this pandemic head-on and to save lives, protect the health of New Yorkers and protect the health of our economy.
But we also must pass a bold agenda that’ll do more than just help us recover from this crisis. We need to embrace this moment of possibility and use it to redefine New York’s destiny. How? First by rebuilding our healthcare and teacher workforces, providing tax relief to those who need it the most, speeding up economic growth and creating good paying middle-class jobs, strengthening our infrastructure and confronting climate change, securing public safety and protecting our communities, making housing more affordable and ensuring every New Yorker has a roof over their head, enacting bold reforms that will restore trust in state and we’re changing the culture and creating workplaces that are free of harassment.
This is an extraordinary time and it will be met with extraordinary solutions. The policies I laid out two weeks ago are ambitious, but as I said, just as importantly, they’re realistic and achievable. And we’re in a position to fully fund them by making historic investment, like record aid to education, the biggest capital plan for infrastructure that our state has ever seen, and a groundbreaking program to rebuild the healthcare industry. But we’re also being smart and responsible recognizing that we need to fund our reserves to historic levels as well. So I’m proud to say that today we are submitting a balanced executive budget for fiscal year 2023 to the legislature.
Our state is in a strong financial position due to a combination of factors, increased tax receipts, a thriving stock market, and an influx of federal aid through the American rescue plan and the infrastructure act, some of which have already been received, some with more still to come. Looking forward, our base level forecasts are equally optimistic.
We predict we’ll be able to continue to balance the budget and be able to make these types of bold but necessary investments all the way through fiscal year 2027. And this is a big change from where we were just this time last year. When the division of budget projected deficits totaling $17 billion during that same timeframe.
So this is a once in a generation opportunity to make thoughtful, purpose-driven investments in our state and in our people that will pay dividends for decades. And that’s exactly what my budget will do.
But this is also about meeting New Yorkers where they are now, frustrated by a persistent pandemic, anxious about rising prices for everything from milk to gas to housing, worried about whether or not their paycheck will be enough to make ends meet and stressed, most of all, about their kids, the quality of their education, affordability of childcare, and even thoughts about what their future will be in a world beset by climate change.
So New Yorkers, this budget is for you and about you. And how I propose to use the entirety of our $216 billion budget to directly address the immediate needs of New Yorkers and at the same time positively impact people’s lives and livelihoods for decades to come first. First, we’ll respond to this pandemic head-on by following the science and the data, and doing whatever it takes to ensure that our recovery is swift and far-reaching.
That’s why we’ve set aside $2 billion for pandemic recovery initiatives. I’ll work with the legislature to identify the most impactful use of these funds in the short term, whether that’s held for struggling, small landlords and their tenants, or the hardest hurt industries and workers, or for other purposes.
Now let’s talk about putting more money back into people’s pockets. Rather than raise taxes, this is about tax relief. Accelerating a $1.2 billion tax cut originally scheduled to take effect between 2023 and 2025. This [means] way more than 6 million middle-class taxpayers getting their much-needed money a lot sooner.
At a time when inflation is robbing families of long awaited gains and income, and recognizing that property taxes are still too high, we will provide a $2 billion property tax rebate to more than 2 million middle-class homeowners. And we’re delivering $250 million in tax credits for small businesses to help them pay for COVID related expenses.
In addition to that, we’re having new support for farms and other small businesses, hit so hard by this pandemic. We need to help them not just survive, but to thrive. And using the unprecedented fusion of money from our leaders in Washington, starting with President Joe Biden, New York will see the largest investment in our state infrastructure ever through a $32.8 billion capital plan.
The boldness I outlined in my State of the State address will be realized. I’m putting the dollars behind making long-term overdo repairs to our roads, and our bridges, building new transit options, modernizing existing transit and hubs and revitalizing communities. I’ve also declared war on potholes. So here’s the first shot across the bow: a $1 billion plan called Operation POP: Pave Our Potholes, and this strategy takes us from potholes to not-holes. For me, infrastructure is a quality of life issue. It’s about creating connections, connecting neighborhoods, connecting people to jobs, connecting people to their family members and loved ones. And we’ll finally be able to strengthen those bonds across our state, using cash rather than borrowing money. So future generations are not hamstrung by the commitments we make today.
One way we’ll do that is by reconnecting neighborhoods that were severed by asphalt highways, and these all disproportionally impacted communities of color, like the Kensington Expressway in Buffalo, I-81 in Syracuse, the Inner Loop in Rochester, and the Cross Bronx Expressway.
And one hard lesson we learned about what happens when there’s a lack of investment is how our healthcare system crumbled under the stress of the pandemic.
And that’s why we’re making up for lost time and positioning the state to have better footing going forward with the largest investment in healthcare in State history, $10 billion. One of our shared values as New Yorkers is that everyone deserves the dignity of access to quality health care, especially during a public health crisis. In my State of the State speech, I promise to start by rebuilding our healthcare workforce. They’re the heroes of this pandemic, so let’s stop talking about the debt we owe them, and actually pay them what they deserve. And that includes more than $1 billion in bonuses. We’ll also work to rebuild our medical facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals, which have been crushed by this pandemic, through a $1.6 billion capital program to help them make much needed upgrades.
We’re also going to invest in education, strengthening our teacher workforce and supporting students’ mental health. We’ll provide more than $31 billion in aid for our schools. Continuing our commitment to fully fund education and foundation aid. And that brings us to the highest level the State has invested in education ever. And this should be used to continue expanding our pre-K program to school districts all across the state, and for much needed after school programs. Because working parents need all the support they can get. We’re also increasing our investments in childcare, to more than $1.4 billion. This will make 400,000 more families eligible for childcare subsidies, and we’ll invest more in childcare workers as well.
To boost our economy, we’ll make significant investments in our workforce development programs, support for small businesses, and the revitalization of downtowns across the state. So we can be the most worker friendly and business friendly state in the nation, with all the different engines of our economy firing in all cylinders. And we’ll ensure that the new businesses we’re going to draw to New York will have access to a well-trained and educated workforce. And how we do that is by making our statewide higher education system, the very best in the entire nation.
We’re going to increase operational support for SUNY and CUNY, the engines of social mobility, and we’re adding $1.5 billion over the next five years. And we’re investing $150 million into the expansion of the tuition assistance program, so it’s available to part-time students giving them a chance, which means more students won’t have to choose between work and getting their degree. We’ll also make that assistance available to people in prison as part of our jails-to-jobs initiative.
And we’re going to confront that climate crisis with the urgency that is required. That’s why my budget includes $4 billion for the landmark Clean Water Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond act, in the largest ever investment in the Environmental Protection Fund. We must speed up our transition to clean energy and you are we’ll lead the way by making a nation-leading $500 million investment in offshore wind energy.
And we have to confront the housing affordability crisis. And one way we’ll do that is by advancing a new $25 billion five-year housing plan to create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes, including 10,000 homes with supportive services for vulnerable populations. And everyone deserves to feel safe on the streets, in schools, in their homes, and in their communities, and during their commutes, and in too many communities, they just don’t. So we’re going to prioritize public safety. Starting with $224 million investment into programs that will reduced gun violence and other programs to help children in our streets, and will confront the other public health crisis that is taking far too many New Yorkers lives and will take it on head-on because that is something that has destroyed the lives of too many of our loved ones.
So we’re going to make a $400 million dollar multi-year investment in opioid and substance abuse addiction service. Of course, this is just a small sampling of everything that’s included in the 2023 budget. But the bottom line is that we’ll make smart investments to ensure we not only recover from this pandemic, but emerge from it stronger than ever before.
And I want to be very clear. We’re going to do it by taking a fiscally responsible approach because we know that the federal funds will eventually run out. And that’s why we’re not banking on them for the future. We’re not creating recurring expenses or new programs we can’t pay for. So for the first time ever, with smart planning, New York will have no out year gaps.
All these commitments are either one-time expenditures or are supported by the expectation of a reasonable growth in revenue as projected by our division of budget. So we have the means to respond to this historic moment with a historic level of funding. And what we have achieved with the blueprint I’m printing today is both a plan that is socially responsible and fiscally prudent. And as I learned working on 14 balanced municipal budgets with much smaller numbers, but with the same philosophy, you have to prepare for the rainy days, even when there’s not a cloud in the sky, because of the rain – or where I come from, the snow, eventually does fall.
So we’re prepared for the downturns as well. Just remember where we were two years ago today, and suddenly how our world changed forever. As we assess the risks, we do have concerns about long-term economic erosion caused by the pandemic and the impact of inflation and even – hate to say it but possible resurgence of COVID. We just can’t predict the future. But I want to share New Yorkers that we are prepared.
And that’s why we’re making these investments with those worst case scenario calculations built in. And committing resources every year until the state has reserves of at least 15% of operating spending. That’s what the experts recommend, and it’s what we’re going to do. For the future leaders, for future generations, and for the future health of our state. But we’re not letting this once in a generation moment pass us by. It’s not simply enough to return to our pre pandemic world in way of life. That would be timid and unimaginative, and it would fail to honor our history and the legacy of the daring, visionary New Yorkers who came before us.
Leaders like FDR, who weathered some of the most intense storms the world has ever seen, always while keeping one eye fixed on the horizon, planning for the day when the clouds would part. And it wasn’t through sheer luck that the policies he passed during those crises made an immediate difference in the short-term and a generational impact in the long-term. Through careful and strategic planning. And he embraced those times of crisis for what they were, a chance to re-imagine the future while correcting the mistakes of the past. And we must now have the same foresight and resolve to do the same because this pandemic did not create all the problems we’re facing today.
It simply forced us to hold up a mirror and see the cracks in our society that have been too easy to ignore before. We cannot allow this virus to grip us so tightly that it constrains us from looking to the future or prevents us from mending those cracks. Since its founding, our state has been the home of the dreamers and the doers from all over the world who came here in pursuit of opportunity and a better life. But today for too many New Yorkers, the American dream is just that, a dream. And that has been even more true as a result of this pandemic.
As I said in my State of the State speech, it’s time for a better, fairer, and more inclusive version. And I’m calling it the New York dream. And by implementing the agenda I proposed two weeks ago, we can make it a reality. And this is with smart, strategic and a forward thinking plan, we will. This is a moment of great possibility. A once in a generation chance to reconsider what is possible for our state. And this really is the beginning of New York’s next great comeback.
I declared a new era for New York and it continues today. So New Yorkers, this budget’s for you.