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Statement on Final State Budget Negotiations

As the State Legislature and Governor Hochul enter their final negotiations for next fiscal year’s budget, they are deciding on funding that will have a massive impact on their constituents – both here in the Hudson Valley and across the state – particularly on workers, immigrants, and People of Color. We urge our elected leaders to put an end to the proposed rollbacks to the state’s groundbreaking bail reform law and to include Coverage for All in the final budget to expand healthcare access to 154,000 New Yorkers. 

Coverage For All is desperately needed by the state’s immigrant communities. We organize people every day here in the Hudson Valley who perform essential work that our economy depends on, but who are denied access to the state’s  Essential Plan due to their immigration status. The state legislature took a massive step forward in the fight to guarantee healthcare as a right by including Coverage For All in both chamber’s one house budgets, and we demand that the Governor and legislative leadership follow their lead and pass Coverage For All in the final budget to expand healthcare, with zero premiums and deductibles, to financially-eligible New Yorkers regardless of immigration status. 

In 2019, the state passed groundbreaking bail reforms that have begun to erode our criminal legal system’s emphasis on presumed guilt, implicit biases against People of Color and poor New Yorkers, and focus on punishment instead of root causes. The laws require the release of those accused of most misdemeanors and nonviolent felony cases without cash bail while they await trial. This has allowed more than 200,000 New Yorkers to remain home with their families, attend school or work, and be free to live their lives, presumed innocent by our justice system as is their constitutional right. These reforms helped address the deep racial inequities in our justice system, as well as the blatant bias in favor of those who could afford cash bail. 

What the 2019 reforms did NOT do, however, was damage public safety. There is no actual evidence that links bail reform to an increase in crime..  

Governor Hochul’s proposed rollbacks of bail reforms are a disgraceful attempt to undermine progress and further incarcerate People of Color and poor communities:

  • Her proposal to eliminate the “least restrictive means” legal requirement is a blatant attack on constitutional rights and would lead to the most restrictive bail laws in the history of the state 
  • Her proposal to add a “dangerousness” standard represents an ignorance of current law, and would fuel racial discrimination 
  • Her proposal to make repeat arrestees eligible for cash bail amplifies already existing biases – it will disproportionately punish poor and POC New Yorkers who have had contact  with our criminal legal system 
  • Her proposal to allow prosecution to withhold certain evidence will bring back the injustices of the now-repealed Blindfold Law, fueling wrongful convictions and disempowering incarcerated people from gaining access to relevant information. 

For the Many calls on the Governor and the State Legislature to take steps forward in the fight for racial, immigration, and healthcare justice by including Coverage For All in the final budget, and excluding the proposed rollbacks to the state’s bail reform laws.

WHO WE ARE

COMING TOGETHER TO TRANSFORM NEW YORK.

For too long, greedy corporations, billionaires, and political elites have used their wealth and power to rig our country against us. We’re fighting to put power back in our hands.