Governor’s Budget Offers Record Funding for Vital Programs

Albany, NY Following the release of Governor Kathy Hochul’s first executive budget, we have been offered a look at where her priorities are directed and where the Legislature and Executive can work together to accomplish shared goals of protecting the environment, expanding access to affordable healthcare and offering much needed support to our public university system, SUNY. The Governor's plan offers record funding and highlights the effectiveness of the revenue raising measures the Legislature implemented last year.

“This plan can be the start of a watershed moment of collaboration between the co-equal branches of government. I applaud the Governor for listening to the advocacy and expertise of the legislature to address the needs in our community,” said Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess).

Holding true to her word during the State of the State, the Governor has made the protection and preservation of our climate a priority in her budget by proposing substantial spending increases for essential environmental programs. This includes a $400 million appropriation for the Environmental Protection Fund, an increase of 25 percent from SFY 2022, $200 million for the revitalization of state parks, up from $110 million last year and a landmark $4 billion for the clean water, clean air and green jobs environmental bond act. In addition, the Governor has proposed spending $500 million to develop offshore wind farm supply chains and port infrastructure.

"While I continue to hope the Executive will embrace my bills to end fossil fuel subsidies and to enact a carbon pollution tax, it is encouraging to see renewed attention and investment in these key programs," said Assemblymember Cahill. "Amid the growing threat of climate change, New York must resume the mantle as a national leader in sustainable development and energy generation."

In the throes of a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Governor has focused attention toward bolstering our health systems and improving access to public healthcare, with an increase of over $10 billion directed primarily to Medicaid services and basic coverage. The proposal includes an expansion of Medicaid for lower-income New Yorkers age 65 and up and those with disabilities, as well as an increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates to provide long overdue structural support to providers. According to this proposal, Governor Hochul would also see significant growth of the Essential Plan, expanding eligibility to those whose income falls under 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit. To confront the strain the pandemic has placed on our health system, funding has been put forward to support at-home testing and vaccination, along with a $10 billion, multi-year investment in wages and bonuses for healthcare workers. 

Following a decade of austerity and disinvestment in public education, Governor Hochul put forth a historic funding plan for our schools. It increases annual school aid by over $2.1 billion, a year-to-year increase of 7.1 percent, raising it to a record level of $31.3 billion; a significant expansion compared to the 2.98 percent increase in the 2021-22 executive budget. The Governor has also sought to close the TAP gap by providing SUNY and CUNY state colleges with $108.4 million in state funding. The budget also aims to support those with economic disadvantages through an additional $24 million in higher education opportunity programs and training centers overseen by SUNY and CUNY. This higher education budget represents a strong initiative by the Governor for the Legislature to move even further to demonstrate our strong support for our SUNY system. 

Governor Hochul’s budget also addresses several issues related to the insurance industry. Under the proposed budget, telehealth services would be reimbursed at the same rate as those delivered in-person. This important area of concern deserves significant additional attention. Also included are proposals that individual and group plans shall cover all family planning services, including abortion. 

“I appreciate the Governor providing this framework as a starting point for the Assembly and Senate to examine. In the coming weeks the Legislature will issue our own take on the spending plan further addressing the needs of all New Yorkers. I look forward to discussions with local stakeholders and community groups in determining how the budget can support their mission,” concluded Assemblymember Cahill.