With redistricting in the rearview mirror and one-house budgets expected to be released next week, Capital Tonight sat down with New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to discuss a variety of topics, including education aid.

The speaker stated he is looking to make sure rural and suburban schools don’t lose money in this year’s budget; and that there is an appetite for revisiting the Foundation Aid formula. 

“We would, of course, make sure the districts are whole, but we are open to re-examining the Foundation Aid formula,” Heastie said of school funding. “But we want to make sure that our rural and suburban districts aren’t harmed by any proposal.”

The governor’s executive budget proposal does away with the “Save Harmless” provision of the Foundation Aid formula, which ensured that districts never received less aid than they did the year before. 

“Don’t call it a cut when you look at where we started in 2021 when I became governor, almost $7 billion more in education,” Hochul said during her budget address. “I’m not saying go back to 2021. I’m just saying I can’t give you a 18% increase on top of the $7 billion we just did.”

When asked if his conference will be pushing to raise revenue to ensure school districts receive at least as much aid as they received last year, Heastie said, “as my communications director says, you’re going to have to stay tuned for the whole movie."

Will the Assembly’s one-house budget include $1 million to fund an analysis of the Foundation Aid formula that the Board of Regents recommended?

“If that’s where we land, that we want to re-examine and update the formula. Of course, resources would have to be put behind that,” he said.

He continued.

“I have to talk to the members first because when we come up with the one-house, we go over the governor’s budget, the members make comments to myself and Helene Weinstein, the chair of Ways and Means,” he said.

On Monday morning, Weinstein announced her retirement from the Assembly after this session, one of several members who will not be returning next year.

“There are a lot of senior members who are leaving, so this might be the fastest in the history of the Assembly of people becoming committee chairs,” Heastie commented. 

On housing, when asked if leaders and the governor must hammer out a proposal this year, Heastie said yes.

“I do think it’s critical to come up with a statewide housing plan,” he said.

According to Heastie, such a plan would need union support, developer incentives and tenant protections, but not necessarily the so-called “Good Cause Eviction” bill (S. 305 Salazar/A. 4454 Hunter) that many progressives are pushing.

Heastie also teased a new Assembly proposal that he described broadly as dealing with hospitals and Medicaid.

“I do think the state has to come up with a long-term plan for hospitals to sustain, particularly the hospitals, the municipal hospitals that have low private insurance clientele,” he told Capital Tonight. “I do think we have to come up with a long-term plan.”

Is there one in the ether?

“Maybe. Maybe,” he teased. “You have to watch the movie.”