Normally, the state budget process is a contentious one, with the governor and the legislature spending months wrangling over where to increase and cut spending.
But this year, New York is flush with cash, and that makes for a much smoother process with legislative leaders.
“We are so happy we don’t have to go to war over this. We don’t have to fight. They are happy with where we are," Hochul said. "I also was smart enough with my team to set aside a significant amount of money of one-time pandemic dollars to help them help me decide how to spend it.”
As she stands for election later this year, Hochul also broke away from some pro-tax Democrats, telling high-income earners that she wants to make sure they don’t move away.
“In this city, I think a lot of people, successful people, high-net worth individuals, didn’t feel welcome in their own city. They had this sense that their success was being denigrated," Hochul said. "These are not just people creating jobs, they are the ones supporting our arts and culture and out philanthropies. And I can’t have them doing that in Miami.”
But last year, the state legislature voted to raise taxes on the wealthy. That led to concerns New York could lose part of its tax base if people flee to lesser-taxed states. New York’s budget relies heavily on those top earners.
“We have, with the tax increase of last year, the highest top marginal personal income tax in the country, and the highest corporate franchise tax in the country. And we were losing millionaires before the SALT cap. How big a threat are high taxes?” said Andrew Rein of the Citizens Budget Commission.
“I’m not raising taxes, by the way. Not raising taxes. Not raising taxes. Not raising taxes," Hochul said. "Because we have enough to work with.”
The legislature is currently going through the governor’s proposed state budget by conducting hearings. In March, both houses and the governor are expected to come together a craft a final spending plan for the next fiscal year, which begins April 1.