New York state lawmakers have announced an agreement to the delayed Fiscal Year 2024 budget, Governor Kathy Hochul announced last week. The budget will still have to pass a vote through the state house, but its larger questions have been ironed-out, according to the governor. Hochul said the following: “I promised New Yorkers we’d make our state more affordable, more livable and safer, and this budget delivers on that promise.”
Significantly, the budget includes funding measures for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), new emissions requirements for the construction of new buildings, and funding for a slew of infrastructure programs. The budget notably omits the governor’s affordable housing plan, which would have required municipalities to provide housing on a local level, including incentives for middle- and low-income residents. It is now unclear how the state plans to address housing on a large scale, save the rental assistance that the budget will provide to public housing residents and Section 8 voucher recipients. The budget will also allocate additional funding for an increased minimum wage, policing, expanded Medicaid coverage, and expanding charter schools.
New funding streams for the MTA come amid years of discussion over fare increases, and a significant budget deficit that has been kicked down the road since the onset of the pandemic. The city’s largest businesses will see a 0.6 percent increase in payroll taxes, which will provide approximately $1.1 billion for the MTA. The state will provide a one-time lump sum of $300 million with the stipulation that the agency spend $165 million on paratransit services and $65 million toward limiting the proposed fare hike, which had been discussed as costing riders $3 per trip. The MTA will also leverage funding to study five free bus routes (one in each borough) as part of a pilot program, which had already received an endorsement from Mayor Adams.
Infrastructure support outside of the MTA is another staple of the 2024 budget. $2.4 billion is earmarked for “transformation, maintenance, and preservation” at SUNY and CUNY campuses, $1.7 billion for a new Department of Health research facility $446 million for the continuation of work on the Hunts Point Interstate Access Improvement Project, $105 million to upgrade the State Emergency Operations Center, and $51 million for Hudson Valley Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacements. This is all in addition to the $16 billion federal investment on the Hudson Tunnel rail project that was announced earlier this year.
The Hunts Point access project has been in-progress since 2019, and in short, will connect the highway to the South Bronx neighborhood’s food distribution centers, reducing commercial truck traffic on local streets as is currently necessitated by the lack of a direct connection. The contract for the final phase of the project was awarded in December 2022, with the updated budget finalizing its funding. In addition to the highway extension, funding will be put toward providing safer pedestrian and bicycle connection to the Hunts Point Market.
The budget will also work toward a previously announced goal to be the first state in the nation to require zero-emissions for new builds. This will likely include a phasing out of natural gas in stoves in new buildings, the budget will also increase the New York Power Authority’s agency in supporting state climate goals. This comes amid an increase in the city’s proportion of greenhouse gas emissions in buildings due in large part to Indian Point Energy Center’s closure in 2020.