Budget Update and Two for the Road

April 16, 2024

Budget Update

After the Governor’s Press Conference yesterday where she announced that there are now ‘parameters for a conceptual (budget) agreement’ some lawmakers went on record (anonymously) stating that this was news to them and that they are still negotiating.  Some reported feeling blindsided.  It is our understanding there are still areas that have not been ‘locked down’ (meaning there is complete agreement on the issue and it is closed to further discussion).  In a media availability today, Speaker Heastie said it is possible budget bills may begin printing for action on Thursday.  Of course the key word here is possible.  Some lawmakers are referring to the coming state budget as the ‘matzoh budget’ meaning that the upcoming Passover holiday (April 22 at sunset) is a kind of drop dead date for getting it done.  We will see.

As stated previously, we’ve seen deals fall off the table at the very last minute and so we are steering clear of too much prognostication however we are hearing (NOT CONFIRMED)  there may be a ‘split’ Human Services COLA in the final budget where a portion of a 3.2% COLA (specifically the 1.5% as originally proposed by the Governor in her January budget) is unrestricted while another portion is in some way restricted (as was the preference of the Assembly and Senate in their one-house budget bills) in terms of how providers can use the funds.  These rumors are consistent and persistent so I wanted to prepare you for the possibility of this outcome. But we are still actively pushing for a better outcome.  We have also heard (NOT CONFIRMED) that the new budget will include increases for hospitals and nursing homes at 3.5% with the potential for more if/when the MCO Tax comes to fruition and the state realizes additional revenue from the deal. I think the calculation here is that DoH programs and services are excluded from eligibility for the Human Services COLA with some limited exceptions) and lawmakers are trying to even it out – for the moment.  But this won’t stop us from pushing for a share of the proceeds from the MCO Tax in addition to the COLA.  We had a second ‘ask’ this year – for $500M to address the longstanding disinvestment in our programs and services, but that doesn’t appear likely this year.

If the Speaker’s point about budget bills possibly beginning to print on Thursday is accurate, this could allow the bills to ‘ripen’ (once printed) for 3 days (a statutory requirement that permits time for lawmakers to digest what is in the bills).  Once aged the legislature can take up the budget bills, pass them and move them on to the Governor for final action. However it is more likely that the Governor will send a Message of Necessity that would waive the statutory requirements that require the bills to age.  This is usually the move when lawmakers are dealing with a late budget.

Two for the Road

Today the United Hospital Fund (UHF) released a new Report looking at the Ripple Effects of the Adolescent Behavioral Health Crisis on American Adolescents, Families and Society.https://uhfnyc.org/publications/publication/the-ripple-effects-of-the-adolescent-behavioral-health-crisis/

Yesterday the CUNY Institute for State & Local Governance published a new Report looking at barriers to BIPOC representation in the helping professions to include recommendations to address them (see attached document).