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Budget delays and New Yorkers' top priorities match on affordability, crime

New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks to reporters about legislation passed during a special legislative session, in the Red Room at the state Capitol.
Hans Pennink
Associated Press
New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks to reporters about legislation passed at the state Capitol.

More than 70% of New Yorkers polled in a new survey from Siena College rank the state favorably on quality of education, healthcare and economic opportunities. But affordable housing and crime rates remain nagging issues as state budget negotiations continue.

Don Levy, the director of Siena College Research Institute noted three aspects of life that New Yorkers were unhappy with: affordability, safety and political representation from lawmakers. And those are mirrored in state budget talks.

The state budget proposal is two weeks overdue, with Governor Kathy Hochul’s housing and bail reform plans the main factors for the delay. Lawmakers met in Albany on Monday for continued negotiations and passed a second short-term budget bill. Despite the holdup, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins emphasized the negotiations are progressing.

Stewart-Cousins addressed the issue of bail reform laws, saying, “We do not want to criminalize poverty for low-level offenses. And yet, we need to make sure that there is clarity about the law in the judicial system. So the governor has those objectives, we have those objectives, we want to make sure that justice is done.”

Two-thirds of those polled by Siena gave the state a failing grade in terms of affordability. Residents were split on whether or not they feel safe — 51% ranked New York ‘excellent’ in terms of safety while 49% ranked ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ in terms of safety.

“68% of Blacks, 65% of Latinos say [living in New York] is not affordable,” Levy said. “So that’s a loud and clear complaint amongst New Yorkers and certainly that’s something New Yorkers are asking to address in the budget.”

On the affordable housing issue, Stewart-Cousins said in a statement, “there is an agreement that we do have a housing shortage. The governor has a plan but it's a difficult sell in many communities."

Levy also mentioned that 57% of those polled in the survey are unhappy with the political system in the state because they believe lawmakers don’t listen to them and their concerns.

“Somehow, someway, New Yorkers and our political leaders have to address the questions of affordability long term, the question of safety right here and now in order to encourage New Yorkers to continue to be committed to living, to doing business, to raising their family and to hopefully enjoy their retirement here in New York,” Levy said.

Xenia Gonikberg is a news intern at WSHU for the spring of 2023.