As Gov. Kathy Hochul tries to get a proposed $227 billion budget plan over the finish line in the next two weeks, she's getting some outside help.
On Friday, the group American Opportunity revealed it was launching a multi-faceted effort to support Hochul's budget with TV and digital ads as well as mailers. But who is funding the organization, created as a 501(c)(4) non-profit under the tax code, won't be known until the summer.
The ads from American Opportunity highlight Hochul's housing proposals as well as measures meant to add more funding for mental health services and expand the ranks of the State Police while also touting a pledge to not raise income taxes.
In an email, the group said it would disclose its sources of funding as is legally required with the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government and had filed as a lobbying entity.
"American Opportunity is a 501(c)(4) established to promote social welfare and policies, and it has registered in New York state as a grassroots lobbying entity," the group stated. "Our report in July will disclose contributions, as required by state law."
Support from an outside entity to generate interest for a governor's state budget proposal is not unheard of in Albany.
A decade ago, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budgets received the backing of a group called the Committee to Save New York. Cuomo, who at the time was trying to limit spending, create a new, cost-saving pension tier and was clashing with public labor unions, had his budget push reinforced by the organization.
The Committee to Save New York disbanded prior to a law taking effect that would have required similar entities disclose their sources of funding. Reporting at the time indicated, however, that the committee was funded by business interests who were aligned with Cuomo's economic policies.
This year, Hochul is expected to face challenges on her housing proposals as well as plans to alter the state's bail law from Democrats in the state Legislature.
A budget is due to pass by April 1.