In a few short weeks, Gov. Kathy Hochul will be announcing a budget plan outlining how New York will be spending more than $200 billion.

Typically, it's a document that reflects a lot of tough political choices.

"Every governor in the first year of the four-year term, that's when they have to make the toughest decisions, usually in the context of the budget," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.  

But this year could be different. New York has a multibillion-dollar surplus. While that could lead to more money for schools, hospitals and mass transit, it could also give Hochul more flexibility in leaner economic times. 

"This year, this governor probably has probably her best budget in terms of revenues being available," Horner said. "How is she going to squirrel away resources for the out years when the revenue dries up?"

Lawmakers and Hochul over the next three months will be negotiating a state budget that could determine how health care and schools are funded, and whether the very wealthiest will be paying more. 

The governor last year was able to stow billions of dollars into New York's rainy day fund in order to offset the loss of future revenue if the economy takes a swan dive. Higher interest rates meant to cool the economy and record inflation could induce a recession and higher unemployment. 

New York has struggled to regain all the jobs lost in the immediate wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and is not expected to do so for several years. 

Hochul has previously signaled to her cabinet officials she wants to keep a lid on spending this year ahead of a potential economic storm.

Progressive Democrats like Assemblywoman Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, meanwhile, are trying to convince Hochul to reverse her public stance of opposing tax increases in the budget amid a campaign to raise rates on the wealthiest New Yorkers. 

"We need to make sure that we're fighting for Our Invest in New York package that will raise taxes on the richest of us and make sure that we're funding vital resources to make sure people can work here, stay here and thrive here," she said. 

Money could be used for more child care funding as well as help fill the so-called excluded workers fund to benefit those not covered by federal unemployment funds, like undocumented New Yorkers. 

"We want to make sure we're really uplifting the working class and strengthening the safety net," Gonzalez-Rojas said. 

Business organizations have opposed those measures as well as a parallel push to increase New York's minimum wage, arguing the tax increases would drive more people out of the state.

A report released last month by the U.S. Census found New York led the nation last year in out-migration. It's a concern Hochul echoed in her inaugural address.  

"We must reverse the trend of people leaving our state in search of opportunities elsewhere," Hochul said. "We can do this."