New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal features a dramatic $10 billion investment in the health care system, including money to grow and retain the workforce. 

The chair of the state Senate Health Committee, Sen. Gustavo Rivera, told Capital Tonight that, while he doesn’t agree 100% with the governor’s plan, he is excited to work with an administration that he believes isn’t focused exclusively on austerity, like the previous one. 

“This budget is an absolute night and day from budgets I’ve seen in the past for the last 11 years,” Rivera said. “I believe that austerity was at the center of the departeds’ efforts in the way that they put together their budgets. That is not the case here.”

Rivera said he feels Hochul’s plan is “a good budget,” especially as it relates to work force.

Investments, investments in Medicaid, and safety net hospitals.

“I look forward to the scuffles we will have, that will be friendly, in the next couple of months to get to a final budget,” he said. 

One change that the Bronx Democrat would like to see is this: Rather than sending $3,000 bonuses to workers in the health care sector, Rivera said he would like to spend a few billion dollars out of the rainy day fund to permanently boost the salaries of the same universe of workers. 

“I’m saying to the administration, 'hey, if we could put $9 billion away, how about $7 billion away, as a number, or less than $9 billion?' We have the money to invest now that will give us stability over the long term. Let’s use those resources right now to make sure we don’t have to cope with losses later,” he explained.

Rivera, who is one of the primary sponsors of New York Health Act, New York’s version of universal health care, is eager to begin pushing health care in the state in that direction. For example, he wants to extend the Essential Plan, a type of basic health insurance, to undocumented people.

He is also a supporter of eliminating the global cap on Medicaid and the “Fair Pay for Home Care” bill (S5374A), sponsored by Sen. Rachel May.