Gov. Kathy Hochul agreed to add $4 billion to her proposed budget in exchange for $600 million to help build a new Buffalo Bills stadium and support her plan to roll back the state’s controversial bail reform law to do, sources told the Post on Friday.
Hochul was able to close the deals — leading to Thursday’s overdue agreement on a record $200 billion spending plan for fiscal 2023 — because the state has cash on federal COVID-19 funds, sources said.
“The tradeoff is we get $4 billion to add $216 billion to Hochuls,” said a Democrat from the New York City assembly.
November’s election, in which Hochul, a Democrat, is seeking a full term after succeeding scandal-ridden predecessor Andrew Cuomo, also played a role in her actions, sources said.
One assembly Democrat even cited the infamous “Buffalo Billion” corruption scandal that landed former top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco in federal prison.
“She knew that half a billion Buffalo was going to be something that would get people’s attention,” the lawmaker said.
“She knew this would be considered her own capital project.”
Hochul’s call for taxpayers to help fund a $1.4 billion stadium for her hometown team emerged just early last week, just days before the deadline for the new state budget, which is due Thursday.
Lawmakers are about to vote on the 10 budget bills, a task that could take until Saturday morning.
Rep. Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn), who went on a hunger strike to oppose Hochul’s bail proposals, bitterly blamed “sentiment and public perception” for the governor’s refusal to support the legislature despite rising crime levels across the state could win.
“This policy has been tested in a court of public opinion as opposed to facts,” Walker claimed.
Both House Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx) and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) opposed the bail reform rollbacks and specifically refused to appear with Hochul to announce the budget agreement .
Under the 2019 Bail Reform Act, judges were powerless to set bail for those charged with most misdemeanors and many felonies.
Hochul’s plan would allow defendants to be held on bail on suspected repeat offences, hate crimes and gun-related charges, or when their criminal records made them likely to “do harm” if released.
But Mayor Eric Adams and the NYPD unions said Friday those steps don’t go far enough, and Hizzoner said “clearly more needs to be done.”
Veteran Democratic adviser Hank Sheinkopf said that “the biggest thing she got was Buffalo Bills Stadium,” but cautioned that it might not help her politically.
“The bail reform changes were minor, and the problem for the fall is that people are not going to forget this: the level of the budget, that Buffalo went more than down, and that there was no resolution to the crime problem,” he said .
“They will remember that.”
Hochul’s office declined to comment.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/08/hochul-went-4b-over-budget-to-get-bills-stadium-bail-tweaks/ Hochul is over budget by $4 billion to get Bills Stadium, bail adjustments