Smiley face
Weather     Live Markets

State lawmakers are facing challenges in finalizing the budget by their April 1 deadline, with negotiations dragging on over potential cuts in education and Medicaid spending. Talks are also ongoing regarding how to build more affordable housing. While it is unlikely that a final spending plan will be signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul by the deadline, there is hope that both legislative leaders and the governor could make a public announcement about a broad conceptual agreement by Thursday. Negotiators are expected to work on the details of the stickiest parts of the talks upon returning to Albany the following week.

Hochul’s budget director, Blake Washington, expressed cautious optimism about the progress of the negotiations, but most lawmakers are realistic in acknowledging that the budget may not be finalized on time. Discussions around contentious issues such as education funding formula changes, Medicaid cost reductions, and expanding the state’s housing supply are ongoing. Hochul’s proposals to reduce funding for school districts, cut wage boosts for home-health workers, and boost the housing supply are facing opposition from various stakeholders, including school districts, unions, and lawmakers from both parties.

Efforts to revise the state’s education funding formula are being considered, with state senators proposing a $1 million study on the matter. Hochul’s measures to control Medicaid costs have been flatly rejected by lawmakers. The housing talks, including the extension and replacement of the current 421-a tax credit for developers and provisions to encourage housing development on state land, are contentious due to differing opinions from real estate, unions, and tenants rights groups. Despite the delay in finalizing the budget, fiscal experts emphasize the importance of ensuring fiscal stability, transparency, and meeting the needs of New Yorkers in the comprehensive spending plan.

The priority, according to the Citizens Budget Commission Director of State Studies Patrick Orecki, should be on fiscal stability, transparency, and meeting the needs of New Yorkers. While the timeliness of the budget is important, ensuring a comprehensive spending plan that addresses spending growth, rejects tax increases, and boosts housing is crucial. Including multi-year financial plan tables in the budget would provide transparency and allow the public to understand the state’s fiscal future. While the budget deadline may not be met, getting the spending plan right is more important in ensuring the state’s financial well-being and addressing the needs of its residents.

© 2024 Globe Echo. All Rights Reserved.