Op-Ed: State Senate budget proposal lowers costs for New Yorkers

Originally published in Ken-Ton Bee on March 23, 2022.

Last week, my colleagues and I in the New York State Senate passed the Senate one-house budget resolution for 2022-2023. The one-house budget resolution serves as the Senate’s proposal for the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which will be finalized in the coming weeks.

This year, our budget proposal focuses heavily on saving New Yorkers money at a time when rising inflation rates are affecting us all. We are still recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic, and we are focused on providing relief to families across our state.

Our budget proposal prioritizes members of the middle class and working class, who have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. That includes support for accelerating the middle-class tax cut, which is scheduled to take effect in 2025. Under our budget proposal, those cuts will be moved up to the next fiscal year. To support seniors, we are taking action to provide funding to implement nursing home reforms, invest in fair pay for home care workers and expand the caregiver tax credit.

Every day I hear from folks about the rising cost at the gas pump draining bank accounts. To help ease the pain at the pump, we included provisions to suspend the state gas tax and authorize municipalities to suspend sales tax on gasoline. These changes would save New Yorkers an estimated $648 million by the end of 2022.

We are taking several steps to help keep New Yorkers in their homes as they continue to recover financially. One of those steps is my legislation to reform unfair, credit-card-level interest rates on overdue property taxes. By lowering the percentage municipalities can charge people who have fallen behind on their payments, we will help homeowners who have fallen on hard times break the cycle of debt instead of punishing them further for their misfortune.

The budget proposal also continues to deliver the support that kept thousands of homeowners and renters from losing their homes during the pandemic. We are extending funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Landlord Rental Assistance Program and recommending an additional fund to help people who are behind on their utility payments. We are also calling for nearly $800 million in total funding for the Homeowner Assistance Fund, the Housing Access Voucher Program and the Homeowner Protection Program.

We are also taking steps to ensure that every child in New York is well taken care of and support families with the high cost of child care. That means a transformative investment in child care, starting at $2.2 billion this year and increasing annually to $4.1 billion in 2025 and beyond. That money will help us reform and expand our state’s child care system and guarantee working families affordable access to high-quality child care.

As we continue to address the economic ripple effect of the pandemic, these measures will help New Yorkers get ahead and keep more of their hard-earned money.