Last week the legislative session ended up in Albany. It was the most productive legislative session in New York’s history, as measured by how many bills passed through both chambers of the legislature.
In January, I shared a list of my top ten legislative priorities for the year — now let’s take a look to see how we did against those goals.
A NEW DEAL FOR CUNY
I fought hard for CUNY this year, and we won a historic victory, with a budget that allocates over $200 million for funding CUNY’s operating costs and $1 billion in capital funding. This budget ended years of disinvestment in New York’s public higher ed by making the single largest investment in CUNY in a decade. With these crucial funds we can hire hundreds more full-time faculty members, begin to repair buildings that are falling apart, and increase the number of academic advisors and mental health counselors available to our students.
No New Yorker should ever have to fear crossing the street — and we took action in the legislature this year to work towards a future where that is true. The Assembly and the Senate both passed my bill to require life-saving speed cameras to operate 24/7 through 2025, and my bill to reform DMV curriculum to more thoroughly educate drivers on safely sharing the road. Both bills are now waiting for the Governor’s signature.
But our fight for safer streets is far from over. We must continue working to pass Sammy’s Law and the other 4 bills left outstanding in CVRSA. I’m committed to continuing the work to prevent traffic violence to make it so no one is scared to cross the street and no one loses a loved one in a preventable crash.
PROPERTY TAX REFORM
I fought hard — and won — a budget to bring relief to middle and working-class New Yorkers. Our homeowner tax relief program will deliver New Yorkers $2.2b in property tax rebates. If you receive STAR or Enhanced STAR and earn less than $250,000, you’ll see an average rebate of $426 this year. We also created a housing commission to identify a comprehensive plan to address property tax reform across the state as well as ways to better create and preserve affordable housing. The commission must report back by the end of this year, setting the stage for legislative action next year.
We also expanded the Federal Child Tax Credit program here in New York State, and successfully accelerated middle-class tax cuts from Tax Year 2025 to 2023, saving families $162m in FY 2023, and $615m in Tax Year 2024. Approximately 80% of our district here in southern Brooklyn will benefit from these tax breaks.
SMALL BUSINESS AND JOB RECOVERY
Investments in our small businesses are crucial investments in our state’s recovery, and I’m proud of the investments our budget and legislative session have made in the mom-and-pop shops that make southern Brooklyn the community it is. In our budget, we secured $200m for the Small Business Seed Funding Grant Program, and expanded it to include independent arts contractors and businesses. We brought back to-go drinks, allowing on-premises establishments to boost sales by selling wine or liquor drinks for take-out or delivery. And we passed the Green CHIPS bill to support the growth of new, green semiconductor manufacturing projects, creating new environmentally-friendly jobs statewide
COMBATING SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION
This legislative session, the Governor signed 4 of my anti-harassment bills into law: my bill banning retaliatory releases of personnel records, my bill closing the personal staff loophole, my bill extending the statute of limitations for harassment in the workplace, and my bill granting employees access to their personnel records into law. We also passed the Adult Survivors Act, which will grant adult victims of sexual assault and harassment a one-year lookback period to pursue justice in court, which the Governor has signed into law. These new laws will go a long way to ensure no New Yorker should ever face harassment or discrimination in the workplace, or outside it.
TACKLING RUNAWAY HOSPITAL COSTS
One bill I am particularly proud to report passed both the Senate and the Assembly is the HEAL Act, which will expand access to affordable and high-quality healthcare for New Yorkers all across the state, and make a meaningful difference in New Yorkers’ financial and physical wellbeing. Once the Governor signs this bill, it will become law — and New Yorkers will no longer be unable to receive the healthcare they need because of exorbitant costs.
INVESTING IN OUR PUBLIC WORKFORCE
Public sector departments vary widely across the state, but may face the same challenges of mass attrition and staffing shortages. To combat the mass disinvestment in our public sector workforce, both houses passed my bill to modernize the payment system for state employees, as well as laws that will make public service loan forgiveness programs more accessible, ensure home care nurses have limited consecutive hours to decrease overtime and staffing costs, and require employers to disclose salary ranges in job postings.
Time and time again, we’ve seen the desperate need for stronger gun laws, in New York and across the nation. That’s why I introduced the first-in-the-nation statewide ammunition tax, and why I’m grateful that the legislature and our Governor worked together to strengthen our gun laws, including tightening red-flag laws; raising the purchasing age of semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21; requiring the microstamping of firearms, making them easier to trace; and strengthening the licensing requirements for semiautomatic rifles.
This year we delivered a historic investment in childcare, making life more affordable for New York’s families. The soaring cost of childcare has burdened families and forced many people, mostly women, out of the workforce for too long. That’s why I introduced a bill to provide more affordable and accessible dependent care options for New York’s families, by amending the tax law in relation to employer-provided childcare.
I also fought to secure $7 billion over four years in our state budget to expand childcare subsidies and improve childcare facilities, and $257 million to childcare providers for employee salary increases and benefits to ensure better quality care for our children. Additionally, we doubled the tax credits available to southern Brooklyn families with children aged 4 and older, by securing the New York Empire State Child Tax Credit for all families who qualify for the Federal Child Tax Credit. With these major investments in childcare, we are making a statement that New York will always put families first.
We invested heavily in clean energy this legislative and budget session, including securing $4.2b in the budget for the Environmental Bond Act, with $500m for electric school buses and related charging infrastructure, and earmarking $1.45b in federal and state funding to ensure all New Yorkers have access to high-quality, high-speed broadband no matter where they live. In our budget, we also won a $757m increase in funding for the MTA to upgrade our train and bus infrastructure, and in the Senate, we passed the Build Public Renewables Act, which would expand New York’s capability to generate, own, and store its own renewable energy.