Local governments view Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recently released budget as a sea-change in the relationship between them and state government – a relationship that had been strained under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

“This state was built by local governments,” said Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, or NYSAC. “As governors come and go, local governments remain and need to be a very important part of the state.”

Acquario said that a healthy system of government is vital to the economic well-being of the state, something that Gov. Hochul appears to realize. 

“She has reached out to the counties. Late last summer and into the fall, we spent a lot of time with the governor and her administration, including the budget director and state agencies, making our case to either build out some key programs, or invest in new ones,” Acquario said.

That time was well-spent if the governor’s executive budget is any indication.

In it, Hochul included provisions that localities have been seeking for years, including making sales taxes permanent and establishing a platform to collect taxes from Airbnb and VRBO rentals. 

“The fact that this governor is attacking this issue head-on and is advancing public policy here for this state to collect sales tax that legally owed…this is a very important provision for us,” Acquario said.

NYSAC is also lauding the governor’s increase in healthcare investments, which Acquario called “unprecedented." Additionally, NYSAC is pleased with the doubling of money for county services to veterans, and the investment in county highways.

Looking ahead, Acquario told Capital Tonight that he hopes the Legislature and the governor address the so-called "Distressed Hospital Fund."

Currently, the state is “intercepting” local sales taxes to pay for hospital operating costs. 

“It’s a very unique move advanced by Gov. Cuomo. It was supposed to sunset this coming March, but it was made permanent under Gov. Hochul’s proposal,” Acquario explained. “It was (initially) done at the early onset of COVID. As we come out of the COVID emergency, we ask the state to have that provision sunset.”