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We finally have a New York State Budget.

This past weekend, the New York State Legislature voted on and passed the FY25 Budget, nearly three weeks past its original deadline. While the Assembly and Senate succeeded in blocking some of Gov. Hochul’s most egregious proposals, the final budget falls far short of the investments needed to move the needle on growing poverty and New York’s worst-in-the-nation economic inequality. Here’s some of what was (and wasn’t) included.

First, the good news. Gov. Hochul’s proposed nearly half-billion cut to public schools did not make it into the final budget. Neither did her proposed cuts to home care worker wages, nor her 50 percent cut to clean water infrastructure. The budget also halted the Hochul administration’s planned closure of SUNY Downstate Hospital.

On medical debt, the budget included many of the reforms to the Hospital Financial Assistance Law that the #EndMedicalDebt campaign has been pushing for years. This is a win worth celebrating which will keep hospitals from suing patients and ensure financial assistance is getting to those who need it.

Ultimately, though, the enacted state budget perpetuates a status quo that favors the wealthy at the expense of the majority. The Governor held her ground and refused to increase taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers and corporations, rejecting billions of dollars in new revenue that could have been reinvested in critical services and programs to benefit poor and low-income communities across New York.

Particularly disappointing is the final housing package. Instead of investing public money directly in building new affordable housing, New York will again pursue the failed strategy of giving tax incentives to developers. The version of Good Cause Eviction included in the budget leaves out all of Upstate (municipalities outside of NYC must opt-in) and has such broad new carve-outs that it may be nearly unenforceable anyway. In addition, the budget rolled back protections for rent-stabilized tenants and left out the Housing Access Voucher Program, which would have moved tens of thousands of homeless New Yorkers into stable housing and helped tenants at risk of eviction.

After months of advocacy alongside our partners across the state, we are disappointed in this outcome. Our state budget reflects the priorities of our elected officials, and it could not be more clear who the governor and many of our legislators prioritize.

While powerful organizing and advocacy this year stopped some of the worst proposals, we know we can and must build the people power to win much more. Alongside our partners, we will keep organizing so that in the future we might celebrate the passage of a moral budget - one that directs the great resources of our state toward securing the well-being of all of us, especially poor and low-income New Yorkers. We hope you’ll continue to be a part of this movement for a New York where everybody can thrive!

In hope and solidarity,

Rev. West McNeill

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