After missing the due date for the state budget, Governor Cuomo and state legislative leaders appear to have wrapped up six days of furious negotiations with the announcement that they reached an agreement on a $153.3 billion budget. The budget includes provisions to change the age of criminal responsibility for minors, the governor's touted free college tuition plan, the 421-a replacement program known as Affordable New York, and also allows Governor Cuomo to make unilateral changes to the budget that he deems necessary after the federal budget comes out in October.
Governor Cuomo announced the budget agreement last night, six days after the April 1st deadline for an on-time state budget. "This budget continues the progress we have achieved to improve the lives of New Yorkers, and build a stronger, better Empire State that truly lives up to its motto: Excelsior," Cuomo said about the budget agreement.
Attempts to pass a law raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18 had been tried since 2015, and advocates for the bill applauded the move to move misdemeanors and nonviolent felony cases for 16 and 17 year olds from criminal court to family court.
Jennifer March, the Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children-New York; Naomi Post, the Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-New York and Paige Pierce, the CEO of Families Together in New York State praised the inclusion of the the Raise the Age provision in the budget:
Once the Senate joins the Assembly in passing this “Raise the Age” legislation, tens of thousands of New York’s youth who make a mistake will be treated in an age-appropriate manner, offering them an opportunity to turn their lives around. While no legislation is perfect, we applaud Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Heastie and members of the Assembly, the Senate Majority, Minority and Independent Democratic Caucus, and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus for being “smart on crime.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie also praised the inclusion of Raise the Age legislation in his post-agreement statement: "This conference is proud that our years-long goal to end the unjust treatment of young offenders in the justice system has finally been realized with this budget, which raises the age of adult criminal responsibility."
And while the budget deal included the Affordable New York program, it's not linked to the expiration of the state's current rent stabilization laws, which run out in 2022. The inclusion of the Affordable New York program, which will offer property tax abatements to developers for 35 years if they include a percentage of affordable units in buildings of more than 300 units in certain sections of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, was praised by real estate interests but criticized by affordable housing advocates.
Real Estate Board of New York Chairman Rob Speyer, chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, and John Banks, the president of REBNY issued the following statement after the budget deal:
We applaud the agreement reached between Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature, under the leadership of State Senate Majority Leader Flanagan, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Klein and Assembly Speaker Heastie regarding the Affordable New York Housing Program. It will result in the production of substantially more affordable rental housing that is critical to New York City's growth and future.
Delsenia Glover, the campaign manager for the Alliance for Tenant Power, issued a statement slamming the continuation of the tax abatement program:
It is unconscionable that the state legislature passed this massive corporate welfare program at a time when we are facing draconian federal budget cuts, especially when study after study, and eviction after eviction case, shows 421a produces little affordable housing and instead leads to gentrification and deregulating stabilized apartments at alarming levels. With 421a being no longer tied to rent regulation expiration, Albany has granted developers and landlords' to weaken rent regulation.
While the budget has not yet officially passed, it's widely expected that it will be approved in both houses in the next few days.