The good, the bad, and the ugly in budget-friendly Albany sausage making
Word from Albany is that talks on the state budget are creeping at a snail’s pace towards their conclusion at a record pace, with some good things but a lot of bad and ugly things.
- Corrections to the Cuomo-era criminal justice “reforms” are a big part of the reason the budget passed almost four weeks after the April 1 deadline. A change will reportedly make it easier for judges to issue bail for serious crimes by relaxing the mandate that they impose the “least restrictive” condition needed to ensure defendants return to court.
- Gov. Kathy Hochul and lawmakers agreed to provide the city with $1 billion in migrant assistance to help cover some of the costs caused by Biden’s border policies. (On the other hand, the city now projects costs in excess of $4.3 billion by the middle of next year.)
- City Hall dodged a bullet when Hochul agreed to let it pay just $150 million a year to the MTA instead of $500 million a year for the next two years.
- The budget will raise the state minimum wage from $15 to $17 an hour; future increases will be linked to the inflation rate. (Progressives pushed for a jump to $21.) So New York will continue to take low-skilled workers out of the job market and deprive them of the opportunity to acquire the skills to move up the wage ladder.
- A ban on new gas stove outlets, albeit only in new buildings, from 2026. Expect this mindless pain to be compounded by tougher restrictions in the years to come as New York’s pseudo-scientific anti-climate change crusade gathers momentum.
- Cigarette taxes will rise by $1 a pack, a boon for the black market, and a menthol-flavored ban is still under discussion.
- Hochul’s bid to have 100 new charter schools open in the city has fallen through, although some 20 “dead” charter schools could be recycled for new schools. But even this can come with constraints that deny the new schools the use of (plentiful) space in existing public school buildings; The deal would force them to build or adapt not-School room, delaying any opening even if the state helps fund the new rooms.
- Any crackdown on illegal pot shops remains dependent on lawmakers’ concerns about “negative experiences” for store employees.
It could get even uglier: Even the “good” items could contain poison pills that turn progress into regression.
At this point we hope above all that the talks will drag on: the more time they spend on the household, the less further Damage that lawmakers may inflict before the end of the June 8 session.