Albany Dems want to scrap Hochul’s proposed education cuts, raise taxes on high earners

Democrats in the state legislature want to scrap Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed reductions to education funding and embrace aspects of an agreement to incentivize more housing as part of state budget negotiations.

The state Senate’s wide ranging budget proposal released late Monday night would be paid for by jacking up taxes on New Yorker’s making more than $5 million as well as an increased corporate tax.

The Senate’s proposal is a largely symbolic part of the process meant to scope out the parameters around which legislative leaders and the governor will hammer out the state’s budget behind closed doors in the coming weeks.

Hochul’s $233 billion budget proposal released in January includes changes to the state’s formula for distributing education funding called foundation aid. Under Hochul’s plan, 337 school districts, nearly half, would see a reduction in the amount of foundation aid they received this year.

Democrats and Republicans quickly and loudly rejected the education cuts along with powerful advocacy groups and unions like New York State United Teachers.

Offering a counter to Hochul, Democrats in the legislature’s upper chamber are proposing scrapping the proposed changes to the funding formula this year. They propose setting aside $1 million to conduct a study on how to adjust the formula, which many pols have publicly said needs fixing.

“I think that it’s clear to say that we are concerned about the education proposal,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins told reporters last week.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has expressed concerns with the governor’s changes to the education funding formula. Getty Images

Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing for an agreement on a set of legislation meant to drive up housing supply as part of this year’s state budget. AP

Hochul’s budget director, Blake Washington, suggested to reporters last week that she would be amenable to “modifying” her education proposal, with a revised revenue forecast showing the state could have an additional $1.3 billion beyond what was expected in the Governor’s original budget.

“I think it’s probably fair game,” Washington said.

Despite the increased revenue forecast, Senate Democrats are still signaling their desire to raise taxes, primarily focusing on high-income earners. Under their budget, New Yorkers making more than $5 million a year would see their tax rate increased. Those making more than $25 million would see their tax rate jump even more.

Hochul vowed early on in this year’s budget process that she wouldn’t agree to any new income taxes.

Democrats plan reacts to a slough of other proposals from the governor including an open-ended plan to build more housing, shutting down illegal pot shops, combatting retail theft and reforming costly home care programs.

The state Assembly is expected to release its budget proposal sometime this week.

While the state budget is due before April 1, Hochul and others have expressed skepticism that this year’s negotiations will be completed by the deadline, which also coincides with the Easter holiday.

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