‘Parameters of a conceptual agreement’? Not so fast.

Last updated on April 16, 2024

With help from Shawn Ness

New from New York

Happening now:

  • Lawmakers pushed back on Gov. Kathy Hochul saying a budget is all but done.
  • Republicans aren’t happy with the budget deal.
  • A City Council hearing on how Black migrants are faring in the city drew 1,200 people.
  • Earth Day is coming. So too are the bills to commemorate it.

DAYS THE BUDGET IS LATE: 16

Gov. Kathy Hochul is insistent that she and the legislative leaders have come to a

NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE: Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a triumphant call that she and the Legislature have “the parameters of a conceptual agreement” on Monday night.

The announcement featured a carefully-prepared presentation and speech, with pre-drafted tweets, infographics and a “FY2025 Budget Checklist” with 38 fiscal and legislative priorities across 9 categories.

And overlaying that checklist — where each priority neatly ticked off — was a large red stamp labeled “DONE.”

“I have explained what I feel there’s agreement on,” Hochul said.

But lawmakers disagreed that those major categories celebrated as “done” by the governor yesterday — like health care, housing, education and crime — are settled.

Did the governor jump the gun? “That’s a question you’d have to ask her. The pencils weren’t fully down,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters hours ago.

“Conceptually we probably were close to a lot of things… we were still in the conferencing stage with members on certain issues that may not have been the period put on the sentence.”

The budget is still fluid. Friday news of a potential housing deal said Good Cause eviction protections would be capped at units below 200 percent of fair market rate, among other carve outs. But Heastie said this afternoon that number hasn’t been decided and could be different.

“Conversations [on housing] are still happening,” state Sen. Julia Salazar, a Brooklyn Democrat, told POLITICO.

And lawmakers said Hochul’s plan to eliminate most of the fiscal intermediaries that handle billing, payroll and other administrative tasks for Medicaid’s Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program is still being worked out.

“It’s an ongoing discussion,” state Sen. Roxanne Persaud, a Brooklyn Democrat and head of the Social Services Committee, said.

Assemblymember Pat Fahy, chair of the Higher Education committee, said this morning she still hasn’t seen finalized numbers on what spending for CUNY and SUNY will look like.

And legal cannabis champion Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes also said there are still discussions on how illicit cannabis shops will be handled, though Heastie said that matter is “pretty much closed.”

And even while presenting her “conceptual agreement” Monday, the governor said issues like the mayoral control of city schools and pensions for public employees still need to be decided.

Lawmakers today agreed, saying those issues too are undecided as the sides hope to pass budget bills this week. But any predictions on when?

“I want people to know there will be a budget this year,” Peoples-Stokes said. “I promise you.” Jason Beeferman

As Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled a

ART OF THE DEAL: You’ll never guess who doesn’t like the housing deal? Republicans.

At a news conference this morning, the Good Cause eviction measure to provide greater protections for tenants was the biggest component that Republicans complained about.

They believe that the measure would not do anything to address the affordability crisis in the state.

“For anyone who had hoped there would be a solution to the affordability housing crisis, this isn’t it,” state Sen. Jack Martins, a Long Island Republican, said. “And there’s nothing in this proposal that will provide a single unit of affordable housing in the short term. Everything here is long term.”

Despite what the Republicans labeled as a shortfall of the governor’s budget, however, they are happy that Hochul has “taken a page” out of the Republicans’ playbook.

“We have been talking about crime and affordability for years now,” state Sen. Pamela Helming, a Rochester Republican and a member of the Housing Committee, said. “If we’re going to get people to remain here to live in this state, we have to address crime, we have to address affordability. How do we get there? I think we may be on separate paths.” — Shawn Ness

More on budget talks:

— Legislators said they are still a ways away from a budget deal. (POLITICO Pro)

Will Hochul’s budget deal on housing be enough to spur new development? (The CITY)

Here is what’s in and what’s out of the budget, so far, on energy and the environment. (POLTICO Pro)

Roughly 1,200 people showed up at a City Council oversight hearing on the experiences of Black migrants.

MIGRANT RESPONSE: An estimated 1,200 people flocked to a City Council oversight hearing on the experiences of Black migrants who have recently arrived in New York City.

Council members and community-based organization leaders criticized a persistent gap in language access for new arrivals from West African and East African countries who need temporary shelter and legal assistance. Small grassroots groups said they are struggling to access city funding for work they are already performing to assist those communities.

“We need to scale up and meet the moment, and there’s a particular community that is slipping through the cracks,” Council member Alexa Avilés, chair of the immigration committee, said during the hearing. “What we see here is disparate treatment.”

Sixteen percent of migrants in the city’s care are from African countries, the vast majority of whom are single adults or adult families, according to Molly Schaefer, interim executive director of the Mayor’s Office for Asylum Seeker Operations. Most are from Senegal and Mauritania, but there are migrants from 45 different African countries in the shelter system, Schaefer added.

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has expanded its language access team from three to 20 staffers to advise and support other mayoral agencies, but the city largely relies on contractors to provide interpretation and translation services.

Another target of criticism was the city’s faith-based sheltering program, which has just six shelters up and running, according to Schaefer. Meanwhile, mosques have grown crowded with migrants who received 30- or 60-day notices to vacate New York City shelters.

“It has been slow going because we need to make sure everybody who’s in these nontraditional spaces is safe, and that has a high regulatory burden,” Schaefer testified.

Ahead of the hearing, the Council announced the members of its New Arrivals Strategy Team advisory board, an initiative first unveiled in Speaker Adrienne Adams’ State of the City address in an effort to improve the city’s response to the latest wave of migration.

Mayor Eric Adams expressed support for the Council’s contributions during an off-topic press conference Tuesday while defending his administration’s handling of services for new arrivals. — Maya Kaufman

STAY FOCUSED, NO DISTRACTIONS…: Tenant protesters stormed the stage during Mayor Eric Adams’ speech to the Association for a Better New York group this morning — which the mayor said just proved he needed more support from the well-heeled attendees of the business group breakfast.

About four people — from the group Planet Over Profit, The New York Times reported — were quickly escorted off stage after chanting and holding a banner.

“I should have paid them to do this, because then it would reinforce my position. There were eight of them. There are 3, 4, 500 of us,” Adams said to the crowd at an Upper East Side venue. “We’ve allowed the numerical minority who are the loudest to hijack the narrative of who we are.”

Adams’ team placed a two-page list of “New York City’s accomplishments” on each seat, and he said that the room was “filled with influencers” who need to be more optimistic about the city.

“You have defined your beautiful city through the problem not the progress,” he said.

Later, Adams denied that the protesters coming on stage was a security breach. His team knows there’s one thing the mayor can do, he said: “The mayor can handle himself.” — Jeff Coltin

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein made an appearance in the Capitol today and lambasted the state's

STEIN VISITS ALBANY: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein stopped by the Capitol this morning to launch her New York campaign and bemoan “the most restrictive ballot access requirements in the country.”

Stein will need to collect at least 45,000 signatures over the next six weeks to secure a ballot spot — and much more than that, due to the likelihood that many will be rejected.

A key question for her campaign will be whether she can receive enough votes to return the Greens to automatic ballot status in New York. That total will likely be nearly 200,000 under rules pushed through by ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019.

Does Stein see a path toward receiving that many votes?

“Absolutely,” she said.

“I see a pathway to the White House, in fact. Because we have three candidates on the ballot who will be splitting the pro-genocide vote … It’s possible to win a four-way vote with as little as 26 percent and then receive the full cohort of the Electoral College votes. It’s a black swan event, but we are in a black swan moment right now.” — Bill Mahoney

As environmental advocates are upset over the lack of movement on the NY HEAT Act, they gathered at the Capitol today to talk about what they want done ahead of Earth Day.

EARTH DAY PRESSURE: Environmental advocates, frustrated with the lack of movement on priorities including the NY HEAT Act in the budget, gathered at the Capitol to lay out their Earth Day wishlist.

Lawmakers are expected to leave town for two weeks after this week (assuming the budget is done), so it’s likely to be a belated exercise.

“We have fewer days to achieve the Earth Day agenda, but we’re undaunted,” said Citizens Campaign for the Environment’s Adrienne Esposito.

“These bills are necessities, not luxuries.”

Among the priorities listed is the packaging reduction measure, also known as extended producer responsibility, and modifications to the state’s bottle deposit law. There’s also bills targeting PFAS in various products.

The budget deal is set to include some wins for environmental groups, including $500 million for clean water infrastructure and a $400 million Environmental Protection Fund, with a “raid” to pay for staff costs proposed by Hochul left out.

But some issues are still not finalized, including the details of transmission siting.

“There are still a heck of a lot of details still to be worked out,” said state Sen. Pete Harckham, chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee. — Marie J. French

ADAMS ON UPCOMING ANTISEMITISM HEARING: Adams today touted his schools chief’s work to combat hate in schools ahead of an upcoming congressional hearing on antisemitism.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce invited schools Chancellor David Banks to testify before the committee next month as school districts face heightened scrutiny over their handling of the impacts of the Israel-Hamas war.

“What the chancellor must do in a school system with so many diverse opinions and views — not only from students but even educators — we have to find the proper balance to make sure we continue to use these moments as teachable moments without any antisemitism, islamophobia, anti any other group,” Adams told reporters during a media Q&A at City Hall.

“That is what the chancellor has done, and he’s gonna continue to do and he’s going to share that in Washington, D.C. He’s going to share how this city needs to be a model for the entire country,” he added.

As to whether he’s comfortable with the work the city Department of Education has done so far, the mayor said: “We could always learn more, do more, have more input. I want us to do more breaking breads, building bonds.”

Banks unveiled a plan earlier this year to tackle hate in schools, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. He also launched an interfaith advisory council last month to discuss his priorities and offer input and ideas for engagement with faith-based communities. — Madina Touré

— Columbia University’s president, who will testify before Congress, said in a new op-ed she wants to protect students while maintaining “room for robust disagreement and debate.” (The Wall Street Journal)

— New York City could save billions on migrant costs if it expands access to housing vouchers, a new report found. (Daily News)

— A Westchester school is claiming a disability rights group’s investigation into its facility will be biased and inaccurate. (Times Union)