With a $15 billion deficit in the 2022 budget for the state following the pandemic, New York is now in a prayer position for the federal government to provide the lacking funds. In what is referred to by the Governor’s Office as the “doomsday scenario,” where only $6 billion of the $15 billion is provided, major cuts to school funding and tax increases are two of the items that may go into effect.
On Thursday, Feb. 11, lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul made a presentation to the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, and Long Island Business Council to outline Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget goals and what benefits are in store for Long Island.
Leaders emphasized that this was a presentation and not open for discussion to attendees following the conclusion of the PowerPoint.
“This is a presentation, not a conversation,” said Bob Fonti, although he assured that individual questions in the chat box of the Zoom meeting would be forwarded to the appropriate parties. The main tenets of the 2022 budget are to “Reimagine. Rebuild. Renew.” Outlined in the state’s PowerPoint presentation was a seven-point action plan that addresses the immediate and ongoing issues in New York State:
• Defeat COVID-19
• Vaccinate 70 to 90 percent of the population
• Deal with short-term economic crisis (e.g. hotels, hospitality, sports, arts)
• Plan long-term solutions
• Move to green energy
• Capitalize on ongoing changes in society and economy on COVID
• Address systemic injustices.
Hochul highlighted points of the presentation where the Long Island economy would benefit from items in the overall budget.
In one of the long-term solutions, legalizing adult cannabis use was proposed and anticipated to create 60,000 new jobs and generate $350 in annual tax revenue.
Mobile sports betting, legal and popular in other parts of the tri-state area, will be introduced to New York State.
A $306 billion infrastructure investment is slated, with Hochul pointing to recently opened projects like Moynihan Train Hall, and an additional $16 billion for the Penn Station renewal.
Fifty-one billion dollars will go to the MTA for expansion and updates. In addition, Northrup Grumman has paid a $104.4 million settlement that will help bolster the state’s finances. Referring to Long Island’s biotech research as “revered globally” by Hochul, funding will be made to universities and the industry.
Hochul stressed that under Cuomo, we have the first-in-the-nation mandate to provide $15-a-month internet for low-income families as part of the plan to address system injustices.
For those on unemployment, the rule that penalizes part-time workers from receiving their full unemployment funds will be eliminated.
There are bold plans for affordable childcare, with goals to allocate $6 million to childcare facilities in places designated “childcare deserts.” With this is also new tax credits for employer-provided childcare.
Nourish New York will be receiving an additional $25 million from the state to purchase food from New York State farmers, with much of that donated to local food pantries.
In terms of domestic and gender-based violence, plans will go into effect to require abusers to pay for victims’ housing and moving costs.
New York State elections will expand voting hours to include more evening and early voting hours as well as no-excuse absentee voting (which will require an amendment to the New York State Constitution).