Legislative + Public Affairs Newsletter

 

The beginning of 2023 has been a whirlwind. The year began in Albany with Governor Kathy Hochul being sworn in for her first full term in office. In Washington, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrats retained control of the Senate, while fellow Brooklynite Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was elected as Democratic Leader by his House colleagues. At City Hall, the Mayor and Council have been diligently working to  adequately provide services – and secure funding – for the growing number of asylum seekers in New York City.

As New York continues to adapt to a new reality following the height of the pandemic, elected and appointed officials at all levels of government have been busy developing strategies to address the region’s housing crisis, reposition commercial corridors to allow them to thrive, and tackling many of the social and health inequities that the pandemic laid bare. Read on to learn more about what the State and City have been working on in recent months:

This year’s budget negotiations focused on a few key issues, including: bail reform, housing development, the financial future of the MTA, and charter schools. Over a month after the State’s April 1st deadline, the Legislature adopted a $229 billion budget. Highlights include:

Amendments to NY’s Bail Laws: After considerable debate and negotiation, the State amended its bail laws to allow for more judicial discretion to set bail for serious crimes and in setting the appropriate non-monetary pre-trial conditions in all cases. Judges will no longer be required to use the “least restrictive means standard.”

Increasing NY’s Minimum Wage: On January 1, 2024,the minimum wage in NYC, Westchester and Long Island will increase to $16/hour and upstate to $15/hour, with $0.50 increases in 2025 and 2026. Future increases will be indexed to inflation.

Environment & Climate: New York will ban the use of natural gas in most new residential buildings. The ban will impact buildings of seven stories or less in 2026 and larger buildings in 2029.

Education: Governor Hochul’s proposal to  revive “zombie charter schools” (charters awarded to schools that had previously closed) was included in the final budget agreement. 22 charters will be reauthorized, including 14 in New York City. Proposed tuition increases for in-state SUNY students were dropped from the budget..

Transportation: The State budget includes $15M for a pilot program that will bring one free bus route to each of the five boroughs. The budget also increases revenues to the MTA. 50% of revenues from new NYC-based casino licenses will be allocated to the MTA. Additionally, the MTA is expected to bring in $1.1B annually from a payroll tax increase on the largest NYC businesses.

Children & Families: The income limit for families to qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program was raised to 85% of NY’s median income (or $93,200/year for a family of four). The previous limit was 300% of the federal poverty level (or $83,250/year for a family of four). 

Clean Slate Law: This bill would automatically seal certain criminal records after a waiting period if an individual has completed parole or probation and has no pending charges in the state of New York. This would allow individuals greater access to housing, employment, and education. Criminal records would not be sealed for law enforcement, securing gun licenses, and entities that require fingerprinting including school facilities.

Housing: Earlier this year, Governor Hochul proposed the “Housing Compact,” which set targets for housing growth, incentivized transit-oriented development, and encouraged new housing production through a variety of tools. In NYC, the Governor’s plan included measures that would allow denser housing to be developed after local approvals, facilitate the conversion of underutilized commercial buildings into housing, and extend the completion deadline for projects that had already qualified under the previous Affordable NY tax abatement program known as 421-a. The legislature, meanwhile, has been fighting to pass a “good cause eviction” bill which would protect tenants not currently subject to rent-stabilization from being evicted without cause, and regulate rent increases. None of these measures made it into the final budget.

While the State budget negotiations have been the primary focus over the last few months, negotiations around New York City’s budget are well under way, as the city nears its new fiscal year on July 1st.t. On April 26th, Mayor Adams released his FY24 Executive Budget, which restored some previously announced PEGs (Programs to Eliminate the Gap), including potential cuts to library funding, but was still cautious about the City’s long-term fiscal outlook. As the number of asylum seekers in New York City increases following the expiration of Title 42, the Executive Budget predicts that NYC will spend $4.3B over FY23 and FY24 on shelter, food and other necessities for families and individuals. While tourism and employment numbers have bounced back considerably since the height of the pandemic, contributing to strong business and personal income tax receipts, as well as sales and hotel tax numbers, the City is planning for impacts to  property tax revenues caused by record-high commercial office vacancies and other signs of a tightening economy.

With the City Council’s public hearings on the Executive Budget concluding today, , and negotiations kicking into high gear, the Council is expected to continue to fight for the restoration of funding for libraries, parks, cultural organizations and other essential services, additional investments in affordable housing, and funding for education, including investing in 3-K and early childhood education.

Mark your calendars: Tuesday, June 27th is Primary Day for New York City residents – and early voting begins June 17th. Due to the City’s redistricting process, NYC Council Members must run for re-election this year. Not sure which Council District you’re in? You can check out the new maps here. And because this is a municipal election, ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank up to five candidates in order of preference instead of choosing just one, will apply.

Ashley Thompson DiNardo serves as Managing Director with an extensive background in legislative, budget, and land use processes. She previously worked in NYC government, most recently as Legislative Representative to Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Combining her lobbying expertise with actionable strategic insights, Ashley has a unique ability to develop comprehensive strategies for her clients and knows what it takes to achieve success. 

For help doing business with New York, contact Ashley at ashley@nullcapalino.com

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