Increases to the state's disability benefits cap were removed from New York's $237 billion budget during negotiations to the dismay of lawmakers.

Workers in New York who need short-term disability can receive a maximum benefit of $170 per week, which hasn't changed in 35 years, or since 1989. 

It was a proposal Gov. Kathy Hochul included in her State of the State address and executive budget in January — announcing it was a joint priority of the Legislature this year.

"Everyone was in agreement that this was something that was a priority," said Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, who chairs the state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. "I understand compromise happens, negotiations happen, but I hope we can all come together and get it done for the average New Yorker who really benefits off of this."

Solages said not increasing the benefit in the budget is a mistake.

"There are so many individuals who need an increase in this benefit," the assemblywoman said, adding she knows people who do not accept the low-paying benefit.

The paid medical leave program helps New Yorkers take time off from work to get necessary medical treatment. About 30% are pregnancy-related.

Lawmakers say they'll work to change the law and increase the cap before session ends in June.

"We are going through an affordability crisis," Solages said. "Low-wage workers who are struggling right now living paycheck to paycheck are deferring medical treatment because they just can't afford to live. We need to place these people at the center of this conversation."

Lawmakers spent hours Friday debating legislation that will make up the state's $237 billion spending plan while the two remaining bills continue to be negotiated. Legislators, counsel and their staff continue to hash out the final details of mayoral control of New York City schools, tax credits for low- and middle-income New Yorkers and others.

Disagreements over Medicaid and health spending remained a large sticking point throughout the budget process. Lawmakers passed the health spending bill Friday afternoon regardless — but not without making their concerns heard.

Hospitals will receive an aggregate amount of $525 million in Medicaid reimbursement rates and $285 million for nursing homes — which is lower than what providers asked for.

"I've always believed that we need to invest by raising Medicaid rates across the board, mostly so that they, these institutions, can provide some stability for themselves without having to come to the state as they do all the time," Senate Health Committee chair Gustavo Rivera said Friday during debate.

Rivera was candid about his frustration with this year's health spending plan, and called the situation "crappy," with about $500 million in cuts from various Medicaid programs. 

The budget will change the state's Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program to one state Fiscal Intermediary — and lawmakers are angry a provider will be chosen without oversight of the state comptroller.

"I am in agreement that we should have everywhere that state dollars are being used, we should be able to have oversight," Rivera said.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office is reviewing the decision and declined to comment.

Republicans pushed back on budget proposals for hours before voting against the bills, including speaking out against a plan to temporarily tax long-term Managed Care Organizations and receive a few billion additional federal dollars to reinvest in Medicaid. Rivera said it's a policy done in 17 other U.S. states.

New York's waiver is awaiting federal approval, but Republicans caution against reliance on federal assistance.

"We're going to continue to try and plug these holes and put a Band-Aid on a gaping gun shot wound the more and more we try and solve these problems this way," said Sen. Jake Ashby, a Republican from Castleton. "I'll be voting 'No.'"

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle equally championed $300 million in the budget to save SUNY Downstate from closing its hospital in Brooklyn. It reverses Hochul's plan to transition many of the facility's inpatient services to a hospital across the street.

The governor told reporters Friday low-income communities like in central Brooklyn need better health facilities, and they'll be working with many local officials and stakeholders to make a plan to prevent the hospital from closing

"There's a whole lot of people who are at the table so we're going to putting a path together to have recommendations in place for the next year," Hochul said.

The Legislature is expected to pass all 10 budget bills and send them to Hochul's desk by the end of the weekend ahead of a two-week recess.