State Senator Gustavo Rivera on the 2023-2024 New York State Budget
State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D, WF - Bronx) joined his colleagues in the Senate Majority to vote for the 10 bills of the 2023-2024 New York State Budget. Senator Rivera voted in favor of all bills, including Aid to Localities, Debt Service, Revenue, Capital Projects, State Operations, Legislature and Judiciary, Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (TEDE), Public Protection and General Government (PPGG), Education, Labor, and Family Assistance (ELFA), and Health and Mental Hygiene (HMH).
“This budget represents the best agreement we could get due to the Governor’s intransigence. Unfortunately, this is a budget of lost opportunities. I am very grateful to Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and our entire Democratic Conference for fighting to reduce the harm that many of the Executive proposals would have caused. In the short time that we have left this session, I know that our conference will focus on addressing the concerns of working-class New Yorkers that were not addressed by the Governor’s misguided priorities.
Instead of directly addressing the severe affordability crisis facing millions of New Yorkers, the Governor prioritized proposals that serve wealthy and powerful interests. Housing costs are the driving factor in the rising cost of living across our state, so we must take action to create an affordable housing market where homeownership is accessible and renters have stability. Yet, Good Cause Eviction was discarded, the minimum wage increase proposal needed by so many was watered down, and the resounding call to tax billionaires and corporations went ignored.
Holding the line on the issues that New Yorkers care the most about does not end with this budget. The Bronx sent me to Albany to advance policies that will keep them in affordable homes, provide services that make our communities safer, and ensure healthcare and stability for every New Yorker. I will remain relentless in fighting for proven solutions and governing in the interest of my neighbors and community.
After a decade of austerity in the health budget, we could and should have done more to ensure the long-term financial stability of struggling healthcare institutions, particularly our safety net hospitals and community-based health centers. This budget does begin to address the needs of struggling healthcare institutions by implementing historic Medicaid reimbursement rate increases for hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, but we must do more.
Another positive development is that amidst a maternal mortality emergency, I’m thrilled we will provide Medicaid coverage for doulas, who make an undeniable impact in keeping pregnant New Yorkers healthy through birth.
The failings of this part of the budget are largely in what was not included. It is as confounding as it is upsetting that my Coverage For All proposal was excluded. New York would have saved $400 million by offering health coverage to 240,000 New Yorkers for essential care instead of being forced to depend solely on emergency care. The administration’s decision not to seek federal funds to cover this population is not only devastating for immigrant New Yorkers, but fiscally irresponsible.
I am dismayed that the Governor decided to move forward with the pharmacy carve out and refused to explore my proposed compromise bill that would have safeguarded our 340B safety-net providers and their vulnerable patients, protected pharmacies financially, and regulated Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). Additionally, the Governor failed to take the actions necessary to address operational concerns connected to her 340B plan which has already led to reduced healthcare services in our communities. I also find it particularly distressing that the Governor flagrantly disregarded recommendations by the Opioid Settlement Fund (OSF) Board, by choosing to solely direct money to Office of Addiction Services and Supports rather than the Department of Health, the agency that oversees successful harm reduction and public health programs for people who use drugs. If the Governor is serious about ending an overdose epidemic that is deadlier than ever, she will work with us to direct settlement funds to proven harm reduction programs in the neighborhoods that need them.
THE BIG UGLY
We pushed back against the Governor’s outlandish proposal to eliminate the cap on New York City charter schools and allowed the reauthorization of only 14 zombie charters. I’m proud that we worked to maintain Foundation Aid funding for our public schools and won millions for school meals and capital funding for libraries. We must continue to push back on the Executive’s attempts to run two education systems instead of investing in the quality public system that most families rely on.
It is short sighted, but not surprising, that the Governor made another attempt to reform bail laws to further criminalize poverty instead of focusing on the services and economic justice we need for safer communities. As leaders, we should focus on living wages, affordable housing, healthcare, and violence intervention programs that prevent crime, as opposed to relenting to fearmongering and misinformation.”
The New York State Climate Justice Working Group recently finalized criteria for disadvantaged communities that will be the first to benefit from the historic Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and almost every community I represent in the Bronx meets this criteria. That’s why I fight for policies and programs that support a green economy and combat the health inequities exacerbated by environmental injustice.
This budget includes bold policies to combat climate change, address environmental justice, and reduce emissions. We won major concessions to include the Build Public Renewables Act with real teeth and advance the All-Electric Buildings Act, creating historic pathways for our state to meet the CLCPA goals of zero-emission electricity while ensuring that labor and environmental justice communities have a seat at the table. We’ll also enact a cap-and-invest program that will take emitters to task. I’m proud to be part of a Senate Majority that is committed to implementing policies that will set an example for the nation on investing in clean, sustainable energy infrastructure.
SENATE DISTRICT 33
This budget allocates funding for many local initiatives and organizations serving my Bronx constituents including gun violence prevention programs, legal services for vulnerable communities, and landmark cultural institutions.”
District Funding Highlights: