In the coming days, the New York State Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul will finalize and pass the 2023-2024 New York State Budget. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) calls upon the Legislature and the Governor to include the following five items in the final budget:
1. An Adoption Tax Deduction for Parents Who Adopt Children from New York’s Foster Care System.
Bill S.598-Salazar, the Adoption Tax Deduction Bill, would provide a personal income tax deduction for all fees and expenses incurred in connection with the adoption of a child in New York’s foster care system during a given tax year. NYCF has lobbied in support of this bill for years. The Adoption Tax Deduction Bill passed both houses of the Legislature on multiple occasions, but was vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the grounds that it has budgetary implications. Given this history, and given that the tax deduction called for in this legislation would remove economic obstacles to the adoption of foster children, the bill should be included in this year’s budget.
2. A Pilot Program for Recovery Centers for Drug-Addicted Infants.
Bill S.266-Rivera would respond to the needs of infants suffering from opioid withdrawal by creating an infant recovery centers pilot program. Under this legislation, the New York State Department of Health would open at least four recovery centers across the state for infants suffering withdrawal symptoms. This important legislation passed the Senate in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and passed the Assembly in 2022. This bill, too, should be include in the New York state budget.
3. The Creation of a State Office of Hospice and Palliative Care Access and Quality.
Bill S.4858-Hinchey would establish a new Office of Hospice and Palliative Care Access and Quality within the New York State Department of Health. The proposed Office of Hospice and Palliative Care Access and Quality (OHPCAQ) would eliminate barriers to hospice and palliative care access, monitor the utilization of end-of-life care, and monitor the quality of such care. Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed this bill last year on the grounds that it had budgetary implications. Accordingly, it should be added to the budget.
4. Amending the Concealed Carry Improvement Act to Protect Churches’ Rights to Protect Themselves.
Following successful challenges to the constitutionally defective Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA), Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed budget language (Bill S.4005-A-Budget/A.3005-A-Budget) acknowledging that unpaid security personnel at houses of worship are allowed to carry firearms. The CCIA attempted to limit the right to concealed carry at houses of worship to paid security and law enforcement officers; courts have found this attempted limitation to be unconstitutional. This measure deserves inclusion in the final budget.
5. Raising the New York City Charter School Cap.
Gov. Hochul has proposed budget language that would raise the cap on New York City charter schools, which would provide New York City parents with more available choices for the education of their children (Bill S.4006-A-Budget/A.3006-A-Budget). This bill should be included in the budget as well.