Albany Update

Jun 09, 2024

Updates from Albany

Congestion Pricing

Last Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul's abrupt cancellation of Manhattan's congestion toll left a $1 billion annual gap in the MTA's budget, prompting her to propose a payroll tax increase on NYC businesses from 0.6% to 0.825%. This option faced significant opposition from Senate Democrats and was rejected by state lawmakers. The Legislature extended its session to address the unanticipated $1 billion gap and is considering a proposal to commit $1 billion IOU to the MTA in the next budget without specifying the funding source. The impact of this proposal on the MTA's ability to finance infrastructure projects is still being assessed. Lawmakers must identify a sustainable revenue stream by the 2025 session.

This is an unfolding story. We will update the Website as more information becomes available.

Sources: Gothamist NY Lawmakers Considering $1B IOU after Gov. Hochul’s Congestion, Pricing Flip-flop,  Gov. Hochul’s congestion toll flip-flop spurs mad scramble at NY Capitol, NY Focus Hochul in Hiding as Congestion Pricing Hangs by a Thread, Official Gov. Statement

No Cap Act 

By concurrent resolution, both houses of the legislature have approved a proposed constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to increase the number of justices of the Supreme Court in any judicial district (Assembly Bill A5366/Senate Bill S5414). This amendment authorizes but does not require the increase, and it will have no immediate effect this year. 

The resolution needs to pass both houses again in 2025 or 2026 before being placed on the November ballot. If it is approved in a general election, the Legislature must then vote again to specify the number of justices and the districts where the increase will be made. The earliest possible increase would be January 2026, contingent on (1) both houses passing the resolution again in 2025, (2)  approval of the amendment at the ballot in November 2025, and (3) legislative authorization in early 2026.  If this occurs, there can be an increase in the number of eligible Supreme Court positions for election in November 2026.  - Jim Yates, VID Executive Committee Member and retired Justice NY Supreme Court

Climate Legislation: 

NY HEAT Act: The NY Assembly failed to pass the NY HEAT Act, which aimed to reduce reliance on gas and cut energy bills.

“With Governor Hochul dropping a major bomb on climate action by delaying congestion pricing, the Assembly failed to rise to the occasion to pass the key climate policy New Yorkers need to cut energy bills and ensure the state is on track to meet our climate goals – the NY HEAT Act. With utilities already proposing to raise already high bills rising due to our reliance upon gas infrastructure, and one year after we saw orange skies, the Assembly has turned their backs on the policy solution. The same body that once championed our nation-leading climate law has now earned a reputation as the body holding back the policies New York needs to meet what is laid out in this law." -Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice.

Climate Change Superfund Act: The NY State Assembly passed the bill with a 95-46 vote after the Senate's approval. If signed, the act will establish a 25-year fund financed by fossil fuel companies, with a third of the $3 billion annual funding reserved for disadvantaged communities. This legislative approval marks a significant step toward holding Big Oil and other polluters accountable for climate catastrophe costs.

Sources: Spectrum News, NY HEAT Act gets caught up in late-session chaosSpectrum NewsEarth Justice, Common Dreams, NY Gov. Hochul 'Must Sign' Climate Change Superfund ActFood and Water Watch


Demand Accountability and Climate Action from New York's Leaders

The NY Assembly failed to pass the NY HEAT Act, which would have protected ratepayers by capping utility bills at 6% of income for low- and moderate-income households, limited new natural gas hookups and ended the nonsensical 100-foot rule. Caught up in the scramble over Governor Hochul's postponement of congestion pricing, this legislative failure reveals a large-scale governmental debacle.

The Climate Change Superfund Act, holding polluters accountable, is the surviving piece of climate legislation and is headed to the governor's desk for signature.

ACTION: Please use Resistbot to voice your outrage over NY HEAT and urge Congress to pressure Hochul to sign the Climate Change Superfund Act immediately. Text SIGN PNFIFN to 50409.

DNWSG; Spectrum NewsEarth Justice