Your One-Stop Guide to the 2024 New York State Budget

A version of good cause eviction and new hate crimes are in; new taxes on the wealthy and education cuts are out. Here’s where things landed in this year’s budget.

New York Focus   ·   April 20, 2024
On Saturday morning, state leaders printed the "big ugly" — the last of ten bills used to set this year's budget. | Maia Hibbett

The Division of the Budget staff were dressed in pink. Clustered around a pink chair in the New York State Capitol basement’s indispensable Dunkin’ Donuts, they giddily proclaimed their cause: “Wear pink!” Separate offices within the DOB compete over rates of staff participation, they told New York Focus — like a high school spirit week. As one staffer put it: “It keeps us going.”

Spring in Albany gets off to a slow and arduous start, demanding long hours and whatever motivation budget process participants can muster. The big, eventual promise is a multi-billion-dollar spending package, 10 omnibus bills stuffed with legislation, and some sense of agreement over where New York is headed — at least for the next fiscal year. And now, right on its characteristically delayed schedule, it’s here.

This year’s final budget came together with relatively little fanfare. While some issues saw outcry — rollbacks of rent stabilization, proposed cuts to Medicaid, the death of a major climate proposal — this year’s battles appeared less pitched than many. Is it because it’s an election year, and New York’s Democrats want to project a united front after their disastrous showing in 2022? Or because leadership has tightened its grip on leaks to the press? Is there really just not much to note?

It certainly isn’t the latter. And New York Focus has been keeping a close eye on the state budget fight. We’re identifying the essential changes that readers should know. Peruse our table for a breakdown of state spending, and consult the list below for more detail and analysis of key items.

Jump to topics: Topline spending | Housing package | Education funding | Health services | Drug policy | Climate and environment | Criminal justice | No new taxes | Economic development | Rules of transportation | Everything else

Total spending The finalized budget came in at $237 billion — an increase of $8 billion from last year’s agreement. Hochul had originally proposed $233 billion.

The Senate and Assembly had countered with $246 billion proposals in mid-March, funded in part by a proposed over $2 billion in new high-income and corporate taxes. In the end, the budget did not include the tax hikes, and ended closer to the starting figure Hochul had proposed.

Read about other topline figures:

Tax break for developers One of Hochul’s top priorities this year was replacing a tax break, known as 421-a, that financed most large apartment building construction in New York City before it expired in 2022.

The issue was among the most controversial in this year’s negotiations, as lawmakers, the real estate industry, and labor unions haggled over how much affordable housing the program would require and how much the workers who build and staff the new apartment buildings would be paid.

The final deal offers developers a 40-year exemption from most property taxes. In exchange, they must offer at least 20 percent of new apartments at below-market rents, and on larger projects, pay elevated minimum wages to construction workers that can reach over $70 an hour in the most desirable neighborhoods. The program is slated to expire in 2034.

 More housing issues below:

Higher Education The legislature set aside about $6 billion in funding for the City University of New York and about $13.7 billion for the State University of New York systems. The minimum financial aid award granted via the Tuition Assistance Program, which helps low and middle-income New Yorkers pay for tuition at state universities, will increase from $500 to $1,000. In the highest qualifying bracket, the income eligibility limit will increase from $80,000 to $125,000.

Here's what else you need to know about education:

Social media limits for kids The final agreement did not include the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation for Kids Act, Hochul’s proposal to require social media companies to use a default chronological feed, rather than an algorithmically curated one, for young users. The intention was to provide parents more tools to control their kids’ account access.

Attorney General Letitia James’s office also pressed hard for the proposal, but was unable to overcome a flurry of lobbying from big tech companies opposing the bill. Hochul has expressed optimism about passing the bill during the final months of the legislative session.

The Senate omitted the proposal in its one-house budget resolution, but “strongly supports the need to add greater protections for minors against addictive social media platforms” and intends to “address the issue outside of the budget process.”

Read more about health below:

Fighting opioid addiction The Office of Addiction Services and Supports will receive $960.7 million to spend on aid to help cities and towns combat the opioid epidemic. About $734 million of it will go to community treatment services, while $227 million will go to prevention and program support.

In an unusual move, nearly $40 million of the community treatment allotment will go toward servicing the state’s debt for capital projects. Typically, debt obligations get paid out of a separate allocation, not local aid budgets.

See where else the budget landed on drugs:

Superfund The biggest climate funding item on the table did not make the budget. The Climate Change Superfund Act, modeled after the federal superfund law that requires polluters to clean up the environmental messes they’ve made, would impose a fee on fossil fuel companies for their past carbon emissions. Legislators estimate that it would raise $3 billion annually from fossil fuel companies to fund climate adaptation projects. Similar legislation has been proposed in three other states.

The Senate included the measure in its budget proposal last month — having already passed it as a standalone bill last year — and the Assembly expressed openness to it. But Hochul did not budge. Advocates will keep pushing to pass the bill before the end of the legislative session in June. 

Here are some other climate initiatives that got kept out of the budget — and some that managed to squeak through:

Police Funding While Hochul has centered this year’s justice policy push on retail theft, she doubled funding for the state's response to gun crime for the third year in a row. The Gun Involved Violence Elimination program, or GIVE, which funnels money to aggressive gun policing units around the state, will now get $72 million in state funds.

A core part of the GIVE program is police intelligence, which runs largely through the Crime Analysis Center Network. The series of 11 regional hubs conduct surveillance and provide intelligence to local and federal law enforcement. This year, Hochul pushed through $33 million in funding for the network, up from $18 million last year.

Here's what else changed — and what didn't:

Tax Credits for Families: Families with children will see an increase to the child tax credit payment they receive from New York this fall. Some lawmakers had sought to overhaul the system by increasing the maximum credit from $330 to $550 and extending that maximum to the poorest families, who are excluded from receiving it under existing law. The final budget did not include these measures.

Instead, the budget provides a one-year supplement to the existing Empire State Child Credit. Under the byzantine payment structure, a family’s credit this year is determined by their income and the size of the credit they received in 2023. The total credit amount will vary widely, but will be largest for low-income families, and smaller for the poorest and higher-income families. (The state passed a similar, one-year supplemental payment in the 2022 budget.)

More taxes (and attempts):

Media tax credit At least 40 percent of New York's newspapers have shuttered in the last two decades. The budget creates a first-in-the-nation program to staunch the bleeding by offering newsrooms hefty tax credits for employing journalists.

Newspapers and broadcast media organizations can apply for as much as $300,000 each in tax credits covering half of the first $50,000 of full-time salaries — up to $25,000 in state support for each job. They can also get $5,000 for new hires, up to $20,000. The total pot is capped each year at $30 million, which could run out fast.

And more economic programs:

FARE AND TOLL EVASION As New York City gets ready to implement congestion pricing this summer, lawmakers approved a suite of new powers to crack down on toll and fare evaders. Drivers who deface or mask their license plates will face fines ranging from $100 to $500, and the DMV will have the power to suspend repeat offenders’ licenses. The legislation also bans the sale of license plate covers. 

It’s more lax than Hochul’s original proposal: For example, it doesn’t reclassify toll evasion as a crime, as the governor had sought. It also requires tolling authorities to improve how they communicate with drivers about violations and strengthens drivers’ right to appeal.

The budget also stiffens penalties for fare evaders in the transit system. Fines for repeat offenders can now reach $150; until now, they were fixed at $100 for each violation, regardless of how many times a straphanger had been caught evading the fare. On the flip side, a first offense will now be met with a written warning rather than a summons.

Other changes to transportation law:

Public campaign finance The final budget allocates $100 million in public matching funds for New York's new campaign finance program, through which the state will match and multiply donations up to $250 for candidates in Assembly, Senate and statewide races, offsetting the influence of big donors.

Last year, some Democrats privately expressed concern that the program would hurt incumbents or help Republicans in swing districts. They passed a bill in June that sought to make the program more favorable to incumbents by dramatically increasing the size of the donation that could be matched, but Hochul vetoed it in December.

Democratic state Senator James Skoufis recently introduced legislation incorporating many of the elements from the bill Hochul vetoed, while excluding the controversial matching funds provision. Skoufis’s proposal did not make it into the budget agreement, but could be in play during the remainder of the legislative session.

More miscellany:

This was a live post updated continually from Saturday, April 20 to Thursday, April 25. Updates are now closed. See you next year.

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