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Good morning from Albany, New York…

The Legislative Session kicked off in earnest last week as Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled her State Fiscal Year 2023-24 Executive Budget Proposal on Wednesday. The $227 billion proposal utilizes the state’s current surplus while also preparing for weakening economic indicators on the horizon as well as the end of federal COVID-19 relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Perhaps the best part of the budget release was the timing!  O’Donnell & Associates would like to commend the Executive Chamber and Division of the Budget staff for posting the bills in the middle of the afternoon, unlike the midnight release of budget bills for the past decade. Acting Budget Director Sandra Beattie also did an excellent job highlighting the fiscal backdrop to the 2023-24 process in her first address as leader of the Division of the Budget—certainly worth a watch.

Notably, Hochul’s proposal included a record increase in school aid, the largest Medicaid plan in the State’s history, new revenue for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and a number of controversial provisions including new charter schools for New York City, plans to build more affordable housing across the state, and additional changes to 2019’s bail reform laws.

More on these proposals and the battles to come below, but first, a quick look at the highlights included in this year’s proposal:

  • The first tranche of funding and policies associated with a $25 billion multi-year housing plan to bolster affordable housing stock across the state;
  • A new office called GO-SEMI that would work with Empire State Development to drive continued growth at Micron and other computer chip companies seeking to expand in New York; 
  • Major revenue raisers for the MTA in an effort to avoid cuts, including an increase on Payroll Mobility Tax projected to generate around $800 million, and a proposal to force NYC to cover about $500 million in losses the MTA sees annually; 
  • $1 billion for a fifth round of the Statewide Healthcare Transformation Fund; 
  • Support for SUNY and CUNY including increases in critical maintenance funds, $200 million for expanded research at SUNY flagships, as well as language allowing for flexibility in setting tuition at those campuses; 
  • $700 million to bolster mental health programs statewide; 
  • Legislative language indexing minimum wage to inflation & allowing for cost-of-living adjustment increases for human services workers across the State;
  • $225 million in grants and tax credits for the next round of Regional Economic Development Councils competition;
  • $200 million for opioid and drug user “harm-reduction” initiatives;
  • $67 million for the Office of Cannabis Management to establish a “comprehensive regulatory structure to monitor and control the cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and sale of cannabis.” 
Read more on what was in (and out of) the Executive Budget Proposal from the Albany Times Union here; the Gotham Gazette here; and the New York Times here.  Read the Governor’s briefing book here and the budget bills here

Taken together, the budget is further evidence that Governor Hochul is committed to pushing her vision for New York State—responsible fiscal management (using surplus money to spin up investment in reserves), progressive (fully funding Foundation Aid and robust Medicaid spending), and focused on public safety (changes to bail, money for DAs, and gun safety). The Legislature is likely to not be impressed by the first, love the second, and be very mixed on the third.

Speaking of the Legislature, Hochul’s budget shows she is willing to take on some major policy fights with her colleagues in Albany and even offers some challenges to her ally New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Nothing I do in the budget is driven by politics, elections, outcomes. I’m guided by what is best for New Yorkers,” said Hochul. 

These are the key fights that will dominate discourse in Albany, New York City, and across the State in the coming weeks—and could even ensnare the budget past the April 1 start of State Fiscal Year 2023-24—that you will want to keep an eye on:

  • Gas Hook-Ups— The Governor’s all-electric buildings proposal would ban gas hook ups/equipment in new construction in a phased approach starting January 1, 2026. The proposal would obviously include gas stoves in new construction—not existing homes—something that has created the same ire in New York State that President Biden’s Energy Department garnered amidst rumors of a national ban on gas stoves. The Proposal would be fully phased in January 1, 2035 and would include all single family, multifamily, and commercial construction (but excludes generators). 
  • Healthcare—Perhaps Hochul’s veto of the lone remaining bill to be acted on from 2022 last week—the Grieving Families Act, which would have made changes to the state’s Wrongful Death Statute, one of the most restrictive in the Country—was a preview of a good Executive Budget year for hospitals. Most notably, the Executive Budget proposes “Pay & Pursue” legislation requiring health plans pay hospitals claims upfront with a retroactive—instead of up front—utilization review, a long sought after priority of hospitals across the State. While it may not garner as many headlines, expect a battle over Pay & Pursue that could have major implications on Medicaid’s bottom line, especially as organized labor across the State pushes back on potential premium increases. What else is notable is what was not in the Budget on healthcare—aside from a brief mention in the Briefing Book—Governor Cuomo’s Fee-for-Service carveout of the Medicaid Drug Benefit and the catastrophic impact it will have on safety net healthcare across the State if it goes into effect April 1 were not contemplated in statute, leaving many providers and patients across the State who hope to see it repealed holding their breath for the Legislative One House Budgets in a few weeks.  
  • What Was Not in the Budget—Speaking of things that were NOT in the budget… Many advocates expected to see more extensive green policy recommendations from the Climate Action Council’s Final Scoping Report codified in the Executive Budget. Outside of the cap and trade and all electric buildings proposals listed above, the Executive Budget did not contain a lot of the proposals many environmental advocates had wanted to see. Notably, it does not include the $10 billion in funding for clean energy projects that climate activists have asked for.  
  • Additionally, the budget omitted any labor protections, including further clarifications on prevailing wage for renewable energy or protections for workers throughout the construction industry on the heels of last year’s successful push on contractor registration. Expect those frustrations, coupled with the LaSalle nomination, to continue to boil over in the coming months.  
Next up is the road to the Senate and Assembly Legislative One House proposals, with Joint Legislative Budget Hearings starting today. 
A full schedule is outlined below: 
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In Washington, D.C., President Joe Biden will give his State of the Union Address tomorrow, Tuesday, February 7th at 9 PM (Watch it here). The speech kicks-off the President’s relationship with a divided and highly polarized 118th Congress, one that took a historic 15 votes to elect a House Speaker. The President is likely to tout earlier accomplishments of the Biden Administration, including the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. While Republican control of the House, and an unstable majority, will surely derail any similar progress in the 118th Congress, the dollars from those programs are just beginning to flow and the Biden Administration is going to want to drive that progress home with voters. A White House official said the president’s Tuesday address, which comes at roughly the halfway point of his term, will “underscore the significant progress our nation has made during one of the most challenging periods in our history” and look ahead to the next two years.

Arkansas Governor and former Press Secretary to President Donald Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, will deliver the GOP response, underscoring House Republicans’ plans over the next two years. “I am grateful for this opportunity to address the nation and contrast the GOP’s optimistic vision for the future against the failures of President Biden and the Democrats. We are ready to begin a new chapter in the story of America – to be written by a new generation of leaders ready to defend our freedom against the radical left and expand access to quality education, jobs, and opportunity for all,” Huckabee said.

Outside of a productive first two years of the Administration, there are reasons for the Biden Administration both to be excited and to worry. On the positive front, last Friday’s jobs report was stellar, showing the strongest payroll gains since July, and the lowest unemployment rate in over 50 years. “Put simply, I would argue the Biden economic plan is working. For the past two years we’ve heard a chorus of critics write off my economic plan,” Biden said. Less positive, the Hunter Biden Show will pick up steam just hours after Biden’s State of the Union Address. The hearing, titled: “Protecting Speech from Government Interference and Social Media Bias, Part 1: Twitter’s Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story,” will feature testimony from Twitter Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde as well as other Twitter employees over claims that Twitter’s moderation of content censored certain stories around Hunter Biden. Only time will tell as far as which narrative voters hear. 

While the President gives his State of the Union, the impending debt ceiling fight and potential fiscal catastrophe that comes with it looms large over Washington. The President and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met for the first-time last Wednesday, for the opening discussion of what will be a long and drawn out deliberation on how both leaders can avert fiscal disaster in an extremely politically charged environment.

However, many lawmakers are already preparing for talks to fail. “If they can’t get anywhere, there are a number of choices, right?” said Democratic Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado. Centrist Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and a handful of Senators have met with McCarthy and are informally chatting about possible solutions. A group of moderate Democrats in the House are eyeing an end-around of their own by using a procedural tool called a discharge petition to force a debt limit vote to the floor without the polarizing cuts that McCarthy is pursuing in negotiations, which would align the proposal with a “clean” debt ceiling bill that President Joe Biden has been requesting. Discharge petitions are a procedure in House rules that are incredibly difficult to maneuver and are rarely done successfully. After a bill has been in Committee for 30 days, any member can file a motion to discharge it to the floor with the Clerk of the House, which then is kept by the Clerk until it reaches 218 signatures (a Majority of members in the House). After seven days the motion may be called to the Floor at a time and location designated by the Speaker of the House. Of 563 discharge petitions since the modern rule was adopted in 1931, only two have ever become law.

Read the OD&A 2023 Federal Legislative Preview 

Finally, you never know who you are going to find on the open seas. A man rescued by the Coast Guard from a stolen yacht in Oregon in dramatic fashion just before it capsized had evaded police during a two-day manhunt after he left a dead fish on the porch of a house used in the 1985 classic “The Goonies.”

Notable, also, last week: Thomas “Neymar” O’Donnell scored TWO goals during a shoot-out at Soccer Saturday. Winning the shoot-out and the day!  O’Donnell & Associates salutes you, Thomas! 

-Jack O’Donnell

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February 6, 1998




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New to the NYS Legislature  

Assembly Member Ed Flood was elected to represent Long Island’s 4th Assembly District—which includes parts of Suffolk County including Brookhaven and the villages of Old Field, Poquott, Belle Terre, Port Jefferson, and Lake Grove—when he upset longtime Assembly Environmental Conservation Chair Democrat Steven Englebright, who had held the seat since 1992. His win came as a part of several upsets in a bad year for Assembly Democrats in New York City and on Long Island.
No stranger to Long Island politics, Assembly Member Flood previously worked as Chief of Staff to current State Senator Dean Murray during his time in the Assembly. Flood currently owns his own law firm in Port Jefferson on Long Island.
While in Albany, Assembly Member Flood has said he will focus on policies he sees as driving crime across the State, including amendments to bail reform, Raise the Age, and Less is More legislation. He supports term limits and firmly believes in reversing COVID mandates. Assembly Member Flood has also said that he will work tirelessly for the constituents within his district, including fighting for funds for infrastructure throughout Long Island. Overall, Assembly Member Flood has said he hopes to bring common-sense legislation back to Albany.
Assembly Member Flood graduated from Comsewogue High School before obtaining his bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s University and his law degree from the Western New England University School of Law. He is a lifelong resident of the 4th Assembly District and is eager to get to work for his community.




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Jack’s Take On Executive Budget With WBEN

“I think we’re set up for a couple of real fights here between the governor and the legislature,” says our Jack O’Donnell. Listen as Jack highlights some of the Executive Budget proposals facing legislative pushback in this report from WBEN.


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A Black Woman Invented the Home Security System, Then Fell Into Obscurity

With rare exceptions, such as George Washington Carver, few Black inventors have become household names, even if their creations have transformed society. Among those in obscurity is Marie Van Brittan Brown, despite the visible presence of her invention at the front of millions of American homes. [Read more.]