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Hochul, New York lawmakers, agree to tentative budget deal

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(The Center Square) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers have agreed to a tentative $237 billion budget that includes $2.4 billion for the migrant crisis and a plan for addressing the housing shortage.

The “conceptual” agreement, which emerged from negotiations on Monday, calls for statewide initiatives to spur housing development, including tax incentives for construction, protections against deed theft and up to $500 million to help build 15,000 new housing units on state-owned properties. It also includes protections against price gouging to prevent landlords from overcharging tenants.

Hochul described the budget agreement as a “transformative deal to reverse the downward spiral on housing stock” and urged lawmakers to move quickly to finalize the spending plan.

“We’ve reached an agreement that will make this happen and extend protections to tenants in New York that have never been available before,” Hochul told reporters at a briefing. “These new measures represent the most comprehensive new housing policy our state has seen in three generations. This is a landmark deal, and I’m really proud of it.”

The budget has been delayed by closed-door negotiations over a housing plan, with Democratic lawmakers pushing for more rental protections and wrangling over Medicaid spending and a proposal by New York Mayor Eric Adams to extend mayoral control of city schools, among other contentious issues.

The Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog, said the two-week late budget will leave New York with “a significant future structural budget gap likely exceeding $16 billion.”

“From the reported details, instead of using strong receipt growth to stabilize New York’s fiscal foundation, the budget adds unaffordable spending that increases future gaps,” Andrew Rein, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Fiscally, it simply takes the State further in the wrong direction.”

Lawmakers blew past an April 1 deadline to approve the spending plan, and have enacted several interim budget bills to keep the government open as the talks dragged on. Last year, lawmakers approved a $229 billion budget that was over a month late.

Republican lawmakers criticized the late budget and blamed infighting between Hochul and Democratic legislative leaders for delaying its approval.

“New York under one party rule is in total disarray,” Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt posted on social media. “We still have no clear budget timeline, and Democrats are held up on affordable housing because some radicals want to take away private property ownership.”

Meanwhile, a real estate industry group criticized the housing plan saying it won’t reverse the decades-long decline in housing stock and creates new risks for landlords, developers and housing financiers.

“We are confident that this package falls far short of addressing the city’s housing needs and must be reassessed in the coming years to put the rental housing market on a solid footing,” James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said in a statement.

Tenant rights groups also blasted the housing plan, saying it won’t do enough to hold landlords accountable and protect renters at risk of eviction.

“This sham of a housing deal will do absolutely nothing to make housing more affordable and keep New Yorkers in their homes,” Cea Weaver, director of the advocacy group Housing Justice for All, said in a statement. “It is nothing more than a massive giveaway to the real estate industry.”