Progressive activists are starting a sustained push this state budget season in New York to secure spending for programs meant to aid immigrant communities and low-income people in New York.
The effort includes a push to include provisions meant to expand access to health care for immigrants and money for unemployment benefits to cover more workers who do not qualify for jobless aid.
New York lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul have started to negotiate a $227 billion budget plan, which is expected to pass by April 1. A rally is planned to raise the issues later on Tuesday in Albany.
“We are going to Albany to make it clear to Gov. Hochul and legislative leaders that every New Yorker deserves a safe, affordable home, access to health coverage and unemployment benefits, and more," said Theo Oshiro, the co-executive director of progressive advocacy group Make the Road New York. "The governor’s proposals have fallen far short of the mark for our communities, and so we’re here to remind her and her colleagues that good cause eviction protections, Coverage for All, and the Unemployment Bridge Program should be part of the budget. And instead of listening to the wants of her billionaire donors who want to keep rigging the system for themselves, it’s time to raise taxes on the wealthy few and Invest in our New York.”
At the same time, there are calls to curtail the use of suspension of students, boost education spending at all levels, provide more aid to tenants and bolster protections for sex workers in New York.
New York is projected to have a multi-billion dollar surplus as the fiscal year closes in less than two months. Hochul wants to increase direct aid to schools in New York and is proposing a record $34 billion in spending for education aid in the state.
But progressive advocates, buoyed by Democratic supermajorities in both the state Senate and Assembly, have pressed for more support for immigrants living in New York as well as lower income people.
There is a simultaneous call to increase taxes on the rich once again in the state; Hochul's budget does not raises the personal income tax rate. Hochul also wants to index the state's minimum wage to inflation as Democratic lawmakers led by Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner are also calling for increasing the base pay to $21.25 an hour by 2027.
Currently the minimum wage in New York City and the suburban counties is $15. North of Westchester County, the minimum wage is $14.20.