Earthjustice Statement: New York Gov. Hochul Releases 2024 State Executive Budget Proposal
Governor’s budget offers starting points on critical Issues, but final budget must go bolder
New York Governor Hochul released her SFY2024 Executive Budget proposal. The proposal includes a wide range of environmental and energy policies and funding initiatives.
The SFY2024 budget will be the first following the release of New York’s final climate scoping plan to implement the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Earthjustice recently testified before the State Senate with recommendations for how the governor and the Legislature can meet the climate law mandates in the budget.
The following statement can be attributed to Liz Moran, New York policy advocate for Earthjustice:
“With the first budget after the release of New York’s historic final climate scoping plan, it is imperative that the governor and legislature set a new precedent by including bold policies and robust funding that will put the plan into action. In addition to the need to address an ever-worsening climate crisis, New York must respond to alarming levels of childhood lead poisoning, aging and deteriorating water infrastructure, ongoing contamination from PFAS and other dangerous unregulated chemicals, and a range of other chronic environmental challenges. Governor Hochul’s executive budget is a starting point, but the proposals sketched out leave much room for improvement — with many key priorities omitted altogether. Earthjustice urges the governor and the legislature to flesh out and improve upon what’s in the proposal to deliver a final budget that ensures environmental justice, protects public health, and charts a truly zero-emissions future for all New Yorkers.”
While Earthjustice continues to review the executive budget proposal for details, we offer our thoughts on the following budget items:
- All-electric new construction — We applaud the governor’s inclusion of this necessary policy, but the governor and the legislature should include bill A.920-A/S.562-A in the final budget. The governor’s proposal needlessly delays implementation for new construction until 2026 for small buildings, and 2028 for larger buildings and commercial buildings, and exempts any manufacturing facilities.
- Cap-and-Invest — This program has potential, but it must align with the CLCPA’s equity provisions — while avoiding the numerous pitfalls of similar programs implemented elsewhere. As proposed, much is kicked to regulations, leaving uncertainty towards how much funding the program could raise and how it would ensure emission reductions are prioritized where they are needed the most. As proposed, the scope of “economy-wide” appears to exclude agriculture, despite that sector’s important contribution to the state’s economy and significant greenhouse gas emissions; to be effective the final program must include large-scale agricultural emissions.
- New York Power Authority (NYPA) renewable energy projects — We applaud the governor for opening the door to building public renewable projects and urge the governor and the legislature to strengthen this proposal.
- Additional staffing for Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) — We are thrilled to see additional staffing devoted to DEC and applaud the governor for this inclusion. It is crucial to reverse past damages of staffing cuts and bulk up New York’s key agency for protecting New York’s climate and environment.
- $500 million for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act — We are pleased to see a continued commitment to the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, however, we urge at least $1 billion in new funding to align with need.
- $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund — We are pleased to see a continued commitment to the Environmental Protection Fund, however, we strongly oppose any offloading of agency staff costs.
- Climate-resilient Farming — We are disappointed that funding has decreased for this program and urge the governor and the legislature to include additional support for helping farmers transition into climate-friendly practices and products.
- Transportation electrification — The governor’s proposal continues the trend from past budgets by providing $20M for electric transit buses and $17M to electrify the state agency light-duty vehicle fleet, but unfortunately fails to take a step forward. We urge the governor and legislature to meaningfully fund these programs and develop new incentive programs, more in line with the $2.5B recently approved in California for zero-emission vehicle deployment.
- Addressing childhood lead poisoning — The governor has opened an important starting point with new funding, but the funding levels and corresponding policy must reflect the scope of the issue. With New York having the highest levels for childhood lead poisoning, this will need to be strengthened and supplemented with additional policies.
- Cleaning up “Forever Chemicals” (PFAS) — We are pleased to see the governor devote attention and financial resources towards cleaning up toxic PFAS and other “emerging” contaminants, particularly in cases where a polluter may not be readily identified. However, more details for this proposal are needed.
- $200 million for EmPower Plus — We applaud the governor for increasing funding for this program, which will help low-income households retrofit their homes. We strongly encourage the governor and legislature to include additional funding to low-moderate income households to provide pathways to electrification.
The following were not included in the governor’s proposal, but should be included in the final SFY2024 budget:
- The NY HEAT Act (S.2016), which will give the Public Service Commission (PSC) the authority and direction to align gas utility regulations and system planning with the CLCPA, such as elimination of the 100-foot rule.
- The Fossil Fuel Subsidy Elimination Act (S.3389), which would eliminate some of New York’s most egregious giveaways to the fossil fuel industry and save the state as much as $330 million annually.
- A $2 billion Green Affordable Pre-Electrification (GAP) Fund, which would address barriers to electrification that are not covered by other programs, such as deferred maintenance, hazard remediation, electrical upgrades, weatherization, energy efficiency, and an all-electric replacement for fossil fuel appliances at the end of their useful life.
- $300 million for MTA operations to enable #6minuteservice for more frequent bus service.
- S.88 and S.2353 to address lead in housing. These bills, respectively, require sellers or lessors of pre-1978 housing to disclose to buyers or renters any knowledge of lead-based paint in residences and to close a loophole exempting insurance companies from covering the costs of lead-exposure related expenses.
- Green Transit, Green Jobs (A3090-A and S3535-C), which will achieve a zero-emissions transit bus fleet by phasing out purchases of new fossil fuel transit buses starting in 2029.
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.