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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

NY Gov’s Office Reviews ’22 Budget With Jewish Leaders

On Thursday, February 3, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York hosted a virtual presentation by Governor Kathy Hochul’s office, entitled, “State of the State and Budget Address.” Maria L. Imperial, the Acting Division of Human Rights Commissioner, represented Hochul.

Imperial highlighted nine areas of interest to Jewish communities. She began, “This is a presentation on the State of the State and the cost of the budget. It’s an historic moment with historic funding. An extraordinary time must be met with extraordinary solutions.”

First, Imperial discussed rebuilding the healthcare economy. Investing $10 billion into our healthcare system, “The Governor wants to rebuild our healthcare workforce, to increase it by 20% over five years.”

On public safety and gun violence, she said, “Before COVID, more than 800 New Yorkers died by guns each year; more than 2,500 were shot annually. Since the pandemic began, gun violence has increased significantly across the US and New York State,” explained Imperial. “This administration will strengthen gun violence prevention efforts of law enforcement and community-based organizations. The governor proposes allocating another $25 million for securing communities against hate. She’s also including legislation to increase the cash reimbursement for hate crime victims for essential personal property from $500 to $2,500.”

Next, she announced, “To accelerate recovery, the governor is proposing tax relief for small businesses and middle-income households, strengthening workforce and reentry programs and protecting New Yorkers from consumer or financial fraud.” Imperial stated, “the governor is proposing a $1 billion property tax rebate to more than two million middle-class homeowners. She’s accelerating a $1.2 billion tax cut originally scheduled to take effect 2023-2025. More than six million middle-class taxpayers will get relief when inflation is hitting hard. Tax credits for small businesses will help pay for COVID-related expenses and the road to recovery.”

“Investing in New York’s communities, the governor is proposing infrastructure, economic revitalization and broadband to close the digital divide,” revealed Imperial. “Infrastructure projects will reconnect neighborhoods damaged by transportation mistakes of the past. She’s also proposing faster and easier commutes into New York City.” In Imperial’s own agency, she noted, “Housing affordability has long been a problem in New York State and across the country, but it certainly seems to have been exacerbated by the pandemic.” Imperial added, “The budget includes a new comprehensive five-year plan for 100,000 low-income housing units in urban and rural communities, 10,000 supportive housing units and senior housing across the state.”

To make New York State a national leader in climate action and green jobs, Imperial detailed, “Right now, 27% of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources. Our goal is 63% by 2030. We need to reduce emissions, most of which come from buildings and transportation, by 40% statewide to meet our 2030 goals. Governor Hochul proposes $500 million to develop offshore wind-port infrastructure, creating over 2,000 jobs. Plans will electrify over two million homes, meeting emissions goals, and support electric-vehicle adoption and infrastructure.”

Regarding rebuilding the state’s school system, “We all know how disruptive the pandemic has been to the state’s children, particularly regarding school. Governor Hochul proposes to help New York’s young people recover from the pandemic and get on the path to success,” expressed Imperial. The budget includes plans to recruit and retain teachers to help children get on the road to recovery and initiatives closing academic, social and emotional gaps widened by COVID-19. The governor also proposes to make higher education more affordable and accessible by expanding the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), as well as providing child-care at all SUNY and CUNY campuses. “The budget includes significant support for non-public school programs.” Imperial explained how approximately 370,000 students attend roughly 1,700 non-public schools statewide. The budget provides $295 million for non-public schools, an 18% increase of $44 million for costs of state-mandated activities, $55 million for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instruction, and $45 million for capital health and safety projects including repair and maintenance for non-public school facilities. In addition, the budget also provides masks and testing. This current school year, the state has distributed more than 4.4 million reusable adult-sized and child-sized masks to schools statewide. To meet the expanded need for COVID-19 testing in schools due to Omicron, the state has issued over 7.5 million over-the-counter COVID-19 tests to schools.

Advancing New York’s place as a national equity model, she commented, “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of work to be done. Last year, there was a 65% increase in bias incidents reported by law enforcement agencies across the state. Antisemitic incidents accounted for more than a third of those incidents.” The budget invests $3.7 million to protect New Yorkers from unlawful discrimination.

Lastly, Imperial listed Governor Hochul’s proposed comprehensive reforms that will increase transparency and strengthen ethics requirements, showing the country what honest government looks like.

By Judy Berger

 

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