NYLPI Responds to the Fiscal Year 2024 One-House Budget BillsMarch 17, 2023
Erin Gaffney, [email protected]
March 17, 2023
This week, the New York State Senate and Assembly laid out budget proposals for initiatives that are both highly feasible and necessary to meet the intersecting challenges of racial injustice, social inequality, and the accelerating climate crisis. New York’s commitments to equity, sustainability, and justice are at stake as legislators negotiate a final FY2024 budget in the coming days.
Below is NYLPI’s response to budget proposals impacting our top policy priorities to advance Disability, Environmental, and Health Justice.
The Assembly failed to propose any money to implement “Daniel’s Law” — a law which would transform the way the state responds to mental health crises by removing police as first responders and substituting extensively trained peers with lived mental health experience. The Senate proposed $10 million to establish a Daniel’s Law pilot program, and to create a workgroup to study and issue recommendations on implementing Daniel’s Law programs statewide.
While NYLPI is disappointed that the Legislature failed to propose the $380 million needed to implement a robust, non-police crisis response program statewide, we urge the Legislature and the Governor to allocate the Senate’s proposed $10 million, implement the pilot program and undertake the proposed study.
NYLPI is pleased that both the Assembly and Senate rejected the Governor’s proposal to shift the cost of the Access-A-Ride paratransit service onto New York City. However, we are disappointed that neither house has called for funding to expand the MTA’s successful on-demand e-hail program in the final budget, and we urge the Legislature and the Governor to do so in the 2023 budget.
The Senate has proposed meaningful investments required to reduce climate emissions, mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis, and to create thousands of good jobs by transitioning the state to a renewable energy economy. We are deeply disappointed that the Assembly fails tot include any significant climate initiatives.
Key Senate budget provisions include:
- A Climate and Community Protection Fund, which will ensure that revenue dedicated to climate projects is spent transparently and fairly.
- The Build Public Renewables Act, which authorizes the New York Power Authority to transition to all renewable energy and to sell this energy to New Yorkers at affordable prices.
- The NY HEAT Act, which would end utility ratepayer subsidies for fossil fuel hookups in homes.
- The Climate Superfund Act, which would require major polluters to help pay for climate adaptation measures.
Additionally, the Senate includes requisite guardrails to the Governor’s proposed Cap-and-Invest program in an effort to comply with emission reduction mandates and prioritized protections for disadvantaged and other environmental justice communities. This new mechanism would place a fee per-ton fee on pollution emitted by the largest corporate polluters in the state. As directed in the Senate’s proposal, this revenue should be specifically directed to climate projects, investments in disadvantaged communities, should include protections for workers, and should not simply be added to the state’s general fund, but rather a Climate and Community Protection Fund. As the Governor and Department of Environmental Conservation, and the State Legislature continue to deliberate the components of a cap and invest mechanism, they must do so in a way that complies with standing law, which, among other things, precludes exemptions for any and all polluters in the state.
In contrast, the Assembly’s proposal does not include significant measures to decrease climate pollution or protect our communities from the worst effects of climate change, extreme heat, and rising energy costs.
NYLPI joins NY Renews in urging legislators and the Governor to meet the existential challenge of the climate crisis and to invest in our future by adopting the comprehensive Climate, Jobs, and Justice package in the final budget
The Senate and Assembly both call for low-income New Yorkers to be eligible by the state’s basic health plan (called the Essential Plan), regardless of immigration status. Both Houses propose that the expanded health coverage be paid for with $2 billion in annual surplus federal funds following authorization from federal regulators.
This expansion would provide up to 250,000 uninsured New York residents with comprehensive health insurance, including immigrants and essential workers who have suffered disproportionately during the unprecedented COVID public health emergency. Coverage For All would save lives, boost our economy, and improve finances for struggling safety-net hospitals while saving hundreds of millions of dollars that New York City and State currently spend on the inadequate Emergency Medicaid program.
NYLPI applauds the legislature for including immigrant New Yorkers in this proposal and urges the Governor to join in passing Coverage For All in this budget.
Founded 45 years ago, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) pursues equality and justice for all New Yorkers. Our work activates the power of New York communities as they lead the fight to make equal justice a reality. We strive to create equal access to healthcare, achieve equality of opportunity and self-determination for people with disabilities, ensure immigrant opportunity, strengthen local non-profits, and secure environmental justice for low-income communities of color.
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