New state budget leaves much to be desired for some

The $229B spending plan is called a ‘budget of lost opportunities’


After a long wait filled with many debates Gov. Kathy Hochul signed and approved a $229 billion state budget. But as expected there were compromises from all parties involved.

“Unfortunately, this is a budget of lost opportunities,” state Sen. Gustavo Rivera said in a statement.

Rivera said Hochul prioritized proposals that serve the wealthy and powerful rather than addressing the severe affordability crisis.

The senator told The Riverdale Press legislators got the best agreement they could get given the governor’s “somewhat misguided priorities.” He also noted legislators missed about a month of paychecks due to the extender.

One thing that left the senator angry and confused was the exclusion of Coverage For All. The bill sought to extend the essential plan to undocumented New Yorkers who can’t afford to pay out of pocket or have health insurance.

With that said, there were still some victories for Rivera, with millions of dollars secured for the Kingsbridge Armory and institutions including the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden.

The Build Public Renewables Act was also a success for him, with almost every community he represents in the Bronx meeting the criteria to be eligible. Disadvantaged communities will be able to benefit from the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz told The Riverdale Press the state budget is always a mixed bag every year, with some things he loves, and others not so much. This year though was an overall pretty good budget considering everything he said.

With that said, they still have a lot of work to do on the environmental superfront, the assemblyman said. He says they really need to make some bold steps when it comes to the environment.

Councilman Eric Dinowitz liked that the education budget increased slightly for New York City, but was not a fan of allowing more charter schools to open, he told The Riverdale Press. From his experience with charter schools, he’s seen land issues, different rules than K-12 schools, and different rules for enrollment.

Speaking generally, Joe Sackman of New York Progressives Action Network said the state budget is a moral document, that what legislators use state funds for dictate where they stand morally. Housing was a huge fight to get a lot in but all taken out toward the end, he said.

Hochul’s budget includes $417 million for Bronx River bridge replacements to improve safety on the Bronx River Parkway, $2.4 billion in transformation, maintenance and preservation projects at SUNY and CUNY campuses, and $890 million for a mental health housing expansion.

In addition the FY 2024 budget includes $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, which is designed to reduce climate change, water source protection, conservation efforts, and recreational opportunities for New York residents.

Hochul also invested $347 million in gun violence prevention initiatives.