Legislature passes $237B state budget

The New York state Assembly Chamber is seen during a legislative session after Gov. Kathy Hochul presented her 2025 executive state budget at the state Capitol, Jan. 16, 2024, in Albany, N.Y. New York lawmakers passed a $237 billion state budget Saturday, April 20, that includes plans to spur housing construction and combat unlicensed marijuana stores. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

ALBANY — The state Legislature passed a $237 billion state budget 19 days late on Saturday, following five budget extensions and a cyberattack on Wednesday morning that slowed the drafting process. The new financial plan includes packages aimed at addressing the statewide affordable housing crisis, cracking down on crimes like retail theft and domestic violence, expanding mental health care and protecting the environment.

Concerns about how the anticipated closure of five state prisons and school foundation aid losses will affect the local economy and school districts have proliferated in the Tri-Lakes since Hochul announced her executive budget proposal in January.

With Saturday’s budget, some of these concerns were assuaged. Proposed changes to the formula that calculates schools’ foundation aid were stripped out of the budget, though Hochul has said she would aim to revisit the measure next year. Foundation aid was funded in full this year. Meanwhile, Adirondack Correctional’s fate remains unknown — Hochul has been authorized by the Legislature to close five prisons, and as of Sunday afternoon, she has not announced which ones will be shuttered.

The budget also creates an AI consortium and computing center based in Buffalo. It lowers the medical cannabis tax rate from 7% to 3.15% and cracks down on illegal cannabis shops, which have recently proliferated around New York City, by increasing the state Office of Cannabis Management’s enforcement powers. Distressed and safety-net hospitals — that is, hospitals that are obliged to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay — are set to receive an $800 million cash infusion. A $7.5 million modification to the state’s 1115 Medicaid waiver will also help patients who struggle to pay for healthcare.

The $237 billion budget comes in $8 billion higher than last year’s $229 billion budget. Hochul said last week that, despite the larger budget, New Yorkers will not see higher taxes. A Saturday press release from the State Senate Majority Leader’s office did not confirm this.


Hochul’s executive budget included a proposal that would grant her the power to expedite the closure of five state prisons. The Legislature granted this proposal on Thursday by passing the Public Protection and General Government Bill. The facilities which are on the chopping block have not been announced, but with Hochul allowed to accelerate the process, they’ll have 90 days’ notice of their closure rather than the legally-mandated year’s notice.

All local representatives — State Sen. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury), Assemblymen Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) and Matt Simpson (R-Horicon) — voted against the bill.

“Data from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has shown a consistent increase in assaults on incarcerated individuals, officers and civilian staff. Between this and the declining number of correction officers, closing facilities would only exacerbate this current climate and make existing sites even less safe,” Stec said.

Simpson said the budget prioritized “failing progressive downstate policies and migrants over the needs of seniors, infrastructure and safety statewide.”

Jones, a former correctional officer, was one of 29 “no” votes in the Assembly and one of two Democrats who voted against the Public Protection bill. The other was Marianne Buttenschon (D-Marcy).

Jones said in a statement Sunday that he largely approved of what the enacted budget does for schools, agriculture and veteran services, among other sectors, but found fault with how the budget addressed prison closures and migration. The budget includes $2.4 billion to aid New York City as it contends with an influx of migrants that has overwhelmed the city’s shelters.

“I voted against the closure of our correctional facilities statewide and money going to New York City to deal with the migrant crisis they are under right now,” Jones said. “I do agree they need help, but they should be getting it from the federal government, not New York state taxpayers. There was no accountability in how this money was going to be distributed as well. It is a lot of taxpayer money.”

Local leaders — North Elba town Supervisor Derek Doty, St. Armand town Supervisor Davina Thurston, Harrietstown town Supervisor Jordanna Mallach and Saranac Lake village Mayor Jimmy Williams — voiced opposition to a possible closure of Adirondack Correctional Facility earlier this week, writing a letter to Hochul.

“We live in a part of the state that is economically dependent upon the fluctuations of tourism,” the letter reads. “One of the few stabilizing economic generators in our region, which offset these painful variations, is the Adirondack Correctional Facility, in which so many Adirondackers work and upon which many more depend.”

Hochul said at a speech at Mount Van Hoevenberg in January that the proposed closures were due to a workforce shortage.

“The problem we have right now is we also have a severe shortage of corrections officers,” she said. “Every person whose home facility closes will absolutely find another facility. We commit to that.”

Adirondack Correctional has at least 219 staff members, 29 contractors and 32 volunteers who have contact with inmates as of last November, according to an audit submitted to the state on Dec. 14. This is down from 255 staff members in 2017, according to an audit of the prison that year.

The state has closed 24 prisons since 2011, including Moriah Shock, in Essex County, in 2022. Moriah Shock closed despite fervent opposition within the community and remains vacant.

Foundation aid

The state earmarked $35.9 billion in school aid for the 2024-25 fiscal year, in line with Hochul’s executive budget proposal. The governor and Legislature diverged on school foundation aid, however. The Legislature approved a foundation aid increase of $934 million for a total of almost $24.9 billion in foundation aid, $427 million higher than Hochul proposed in January.

Hochul’s plan drew criticism for its lower-than-usual amount of foundation aid, a category of aid created in 2006 following a court decision, and its proposal to revise how the state calculates and distributes its foundation aid. Foundation aid represented about 70% of the total state aid received by districts statewide during the 2023-24 school year. Foundation aid varies by district; It is calculated by taking into account factors like local cost of living, existing district funding and student needs and costs.

Hochul proposed $507 million in foundation aid for the 2024-25 school year. According to the Alliance for Quality Education, a New York-based organization that advocates for public schools, this number was expected to be in line with past years’ steady increases, putting expected foundation aid in the ballpark of $927 million, closer to the $934 million figure the Legislature approved in the enacted budget.

If the Legislature had passed Hochul’s plan, Tri-Lakes schools would’ve lost $2.9 million in foundation aid.

Hochul’s foundation aid proposal had two tentpoles: Altering the formula that calculates districts’ foundation aid and eliminating the “hold harmless” (sometimes called “save harmless”) provision, which ensures that the total foundation aid a district receives is not smaller than the previous year’s total.

The Legislature pumped the brakes on this proposal, instead agreeing to lower the inflation factor in the foundation aid formula and commission an study of the formula from the state Department of Education and the Rockefeller Institute. The “hold harmless” provision will not be eliminated this year, but Hochul said last week that she’ll continue to push for the formula changes in future budgets, suggesting that the Legislature agreed to re-evaluate “hold harmless” next year.

The enacted budget also includes $100 million for universal Pre-K and $180 million toward universal school meals.


At a press conference on April 15, Hochul announced that the Legislature had arrived at “the parameters of a conceptual agreement” on the budget. Though other state leaders later characterized her announcement as premature, the governor went into detail on the budget’s priorities for housing.

“New York is in the throes of a housing crisis, and the consequences are so painfully evident,” Hochul said.

The budget earmarks $650 million in discretionary funds exclusively for Pro-Housing Communities — a new state designation municipalities can apply for to show their commitment to creating affordable housing. The funds will help these communities improve and create housing. The town of North Elba was one of the first municipalities named a Pro-Housing Community by the state, and the village of Saranac Lake began the process of becoming one in January.

New York Housing Opportunities for the Future, a program that’s set to develop up to 15,000 new housing units on state-owned sites such as former prisons and SUNY properties will see a $150 million cash infusion. Hochul announced last week that the program would be receiving $500 million.

The budget also created a tax incentive for the construction of new multi-family housing, such as attic conversions, in-law suites and accessory dwelling units. Outside of New York City, $40 million was earmarked for eviction protection funding and $75 million for public housing authorities. The budget also include a tax break for developers who rent a specific portion of units in new apartment buildings at a rate below market price.

“Good cause” tenant protections were passed in the budget, which take immediate effect in New York City and localities upstate can opt in to. These protections create parameters for unreasonable rent hikes and reasons for a landlord to terminate a lease. The budget also established the crime of deed theft, which is meant to keep people from stealing the title to a home, a crime that the Legislature said is often targeted at elderly homeowners.

“This budget agreement represents the most significant improvement in housing policy in three generations,” Hochul said in a statement Saturday.

Housing Justice for All, a coalition of 80 groups that represent tenants and homeless New Yorkers, criticized the housing deal on Saturday, saying that Hochul “pushed through a housing deal written by the real estate industry.”

“Despite hard-fought efforts by tenant allies in the legislature to protect renters, Governor Hochul’s Good Cause Eviction is so full of holes that landlords will drive a fleet through it,” Coalition Director Cea Weaver said in a statement. “Not only does this budget fail to spend a single dollar to help homeless New Yorkers gain stable housing, it also puts a target on the backs of long-time rent stabilized tenants, incentivizing landlords to force elderly New Yorkers out of their homes and onto the streets.”


A variety of environmental protections are funded in this year’s budget, including $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund and $500 million for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, in line with last year’s environmental appropriations. An additional $47 million was set aside to fund the state’s goal of planting 25 million trees statewide by 2033. All of these appropriations are in line with Hochul’s executive budget proposal.

Locally, the Adirondack Loj Road will see a $1.25 million repair, according to documents from the state Legislature.

During a budget speech at Mount Van Hoevenberg in January, Hochul said that the Clean Water Infrastructure Act would earmark $2.5 million for improving Tupper Lake’s water infrastructure and quality.

This proposal includes $2.5 million for improving Tupper Lake’s water infrastructure and quality.

“We are very, very committed to assuring that all of the state, particularly here in the North Country, that we protect these assets and keep our waters and streams and lakes pristine. That can never be compromised because that is the lifeblood of this region,” Hochul said in January.

Also earmarked was $250,000 for the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Visitor Centers — the High Peaks Information Center on Adirondack Loj Road and the Cascade Welcome Center on state Route 73. A Friday statement from ADK Executive Director Michael Barrett said that the funding will help to meet “the complimentary missions of ADK and DEC to protect the forest preserve, and to promote responsible outdoor recreation for safe, high-quality outdoor experiences.”

The Adirondack Diversity Initiative, which is funded through the EPF, received $420,000. Hochul originally proposed it receive $300,000.


The budget includes $82.5 million in new capital investments for the Lake Placid-based Olympic Regional Development Authority, $2.5 million more in state funding than ORDA anticipated in its 2024 budget. This figure is in line with what Hochul proposed.

The state has spent more than $550 million on rehabilitating or rebuilding ORDA venues over the last few years, and ORDA’s Board of Directors recently approved more than $26 million in capital projects and improvements to five of its venues, one-third of its initial $80 million capital budget for the year.


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