Assemblyman William Colton (D – Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights) is pleased that Governor Hochul has announced that a budget agreement has been reached and the budget addresses key priorities in the Fiscal Year 2022-2023. Currently, the assemblyman remains in Albany and voting on this agreement which includes changes to the 2019 bail reform bill.
“The most controversial change in the budget was making substantial changes to the bail reforms bill that had passed in 2019, which I had voted against at that time. These changes have been agreed upon to expand the number of crimes where the Judge will have the discretion to detain a defendant based on the seriousness of the crime charged, harm to persons or property, the past criminal history, and most importantly record of repeated offenses charged while the defendant is out awaiting trial. The list of crimes has been expanded to include hate crimes, violations of orders of protection in domestic violence crimes, and gun trafficking charges and crimes including possession of illegal and defaced guns,” Colton stated.
“The great news is that education has a $2.1 billion increase in funding, with $1.5 billion fulfilling the second of three installments to fully repay school districts like NYC which have been shortchanged funding for decades. There is also $375 million over 3 years to expand universal pre-K,” Colton said.
“Higher Education and the Environment are the other two areas which I consider high priorities. I believe there is a $4 billion clean water, clean air, and green jobs Bond which will be presented to voters this fall. In higher education there will be about $53 million in additional monies for operating expenses, plus some $69 million for CUNY and $48 million for SUNY, to close the TAP gap and reduce out-of-pocket expenses for college. There is also a one-time appropriation of $60 million dollars to CUNY and SUNY and an additional $150 million to both as capital monies. There will also be $53 million for the hiring of more full-time professors at CUNY and SUNY. I am anxious to see these numbers because our colleges are the best engine for economic development and funding has been neglected in past budgets,” Colton hopes.
“Another good news is that the childcare funding has been increased to $7 billion over three years, increasing the income threshold from 200% to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level, which would make a family of 3 eligible for subsidies if the family income is below $69,000 annually. As to tax relief, the budget also accelerates a middle-income tax break and it suspends the NYS gas sales tax from June 1 thru December 31, 2022, to give relief for spiking gas prices. The budget also provides $1.1 billion for emergency rent arrears assistance as well as landlord emergency rent arrears relief. The budget appropriates $41 million to help victims of Superstorm Ida who were never compensated for their damages. It also includes $250 million in utility arrears relief and $35 million for homeowner protection assistance. The budget appropriates 4.5 billion over 5 years for new housing construction, which aims for 100,000 new affordable units. $350 million is appropriated for NYCHA capital needs,” Colton continued.
“The one disappointing agreement was the failure to provide fair pay for home care workers, even though home care workers will get a $3 per hour increase in pay over 2 years. I think that the hourly pay should be more, taking into consideration that the job is not easy and that these workers are taking care of our loved ones. I strongly believe that overall this year’s budget has many good things which will meet the needs of the people and their families of the state,” Colton added.