Governor Hochul submitted her $227 billion Executive Budget on February 1st. Staying true to her word that she would not raise taxes; her budget included no significant new revenue raisers. As per her State of the State Address in January, her budget priorities included housing, criminal justice, and mental health care. The Assembly Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees spent the month of February hearing testimony from agencies and organizations on the myriad proposals in the Governor’s Budget. The final Budget is due by April 1st.
There are a few proposals in the Governor’s Budget that we are weighing in on (see details below). As you can see, some of our legislative priorities may become part of the final NYS Budget. If they are removed from the Budget or not fully addressed, we will work on them outside of the budget process, and they will become part of our Lobby Day agenda on May 2nd. We encourage all NRLA members to watch for more information on Lobby Day and to plan to come to Albany for a day of advocating on our legislative priorities.
- Unemployment Amnesty Period for Employers – Last year’s bill has not been introduced yet in 2023. However, some good news relating the UI issue may help the business community as part of the Budget. The Assembly Labor Committee Chair, Latoya Joyner, reached out to The Business Council of NYS, as did the Secretary of Ways and Means, Blake Washington, because the Assembly is considering advancing $132 million in their one house budget to pay off the federal interest debt. Member of Assembly Ken Zebrowski is sending in a letter to the Speaker to have UI funding in the budget. The business community is also reaching out to the Senate and Governor’s office to position it to be on the budget table when negotiations begin in earnest in the middle of March. We will continue to advocate for this proposal and seek three-way agreement.
- Retainage – As mentioned in last month’s report, our retainage bill has been introduced in the Assembly as A.1194 by Assemblyman Braunstein. Last year’s Senate sponsor, Senator Brooks, is no longer in office, so we asked Senator Monica Martinez, Chair of the Senate Local Government Committee, to introduce the bill in the Senate, and she has agreed. I have also reached out to Assemblyman Braunstein about possibly leveraging some opportunities that have presented themselves in the Governor’s Executive Budget. Initially I suggested that we include our retainage issue as part of the Governor’s New York Housing Compact Proposal to build 800,000 homes across New York over the next 10 years, with the argument that materialmen providing materials for this many homes would have significantly compounded retainage held against them. However, through my conversations with Assemblyman Braunstein, Chair of the Cities Committee, I learned that the Legislature is not fully supportive of some of the provisions in the Governor’s proposal, such as a “fast track” work around of local governments and bypassing certain zoning requirements. The Legislature also wants to move policy issues out of the Budget.