ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Just two days after Governor Kathy Hochul announced a conceptual agreement on the state budget, the Senate and Assembly officially passed the $220 billion budget Saturday morning. Lawmakers worked through the night to finalize the budget nine days after it was due.
“I’m excited for what we’ve gotten done here,” said Democratic Assemblymember John McDonald shortly after the Assembly finished voting on each budget-related bill.
McDonald says there are a lot of positives in the $220 billion budget, which includes a tax cut for middle-class families, billions in additional funding for child care, and a gas tax suspension.
“It’s really a budget that’s going to serve all New Yorkers, particularly the people who work in the middle class. Because of the federal money that came to the state, and also higher revenues than we expected, we can return more dollars to the taxpayers,” he said.
The budget and its tardiness have drawn criticism from Republicans, “We got up 7 a.m., got there on the last day to get this budget done, and we worked to 6 o’clock in the morning. That is no way to do a budget in the middle of the night,” Senator Jim Tedisco said.
While concerned over aspects of the completed budget, the senator says he supports measures like child care tax credits and tax credits for farmers.
However he, and other GOP lawmakers, are frustrated over the changes to bail and criminal justice reform. Republicans argue the changes did not go far enough, with many hoping to see a complete repeal of the bail reform law that was passed in 2019.
“Everybody knew if we left that capital, without giving judges the ability to have discretion if the people before them are a danger to themselves or others, it would be a complete failure and just window dressing,” Tedisco said.
During the budget negotiation process, changes to bail reform also drew pushback from some Democrats who didn’t want to see changes made, especially in the budget.
McDonald, meanwhile, says the tweaks, which include defining a repeat offender and making additional gun-related charges subject to bail, are a step in the right direction, “Do I think we got this down perfect? No, I don’t. Do I think we moved in the right direction? I do. Like anything else, just because changes are made today doesn’t mean that we can’t improve on that in the future.”
Tedisco also voiced concerns over the dependence on federal funding to ensure the $220 billion budget would be balanced.
Those concerns were also highlighted by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. In a statement, he said the passage of the budget is welcomed the news, pointing to certain aspects including the tax cut on the middle class and support for small businesses, but added there’s uncertainty about the long-term:
“…While it’s good news the budget maintains a commitment to building up reserves, many new programs will add recurring spending, and it is yet unclear to what extent they are supported by recurring revenues. Using temporary federal relief aid to fund new spending programs could create a “fiscal cliff” in the future…”Thomas DiNappoli, New York State Comptroller