Hello. It’s Friday. Today we’re going to look at the long-awaited draft state budget and hear from the Manhattan District Attorney, who says his investigation into Donald Trump isn’t dead after all.
Governor Kathy Hochul reached a deal with lawmakers on a $220 billion state budget after deadly battles pushed negotiations nearly a week past the April 1 deadline.
House Democrats tried unsuccessfully to block changes to state bail laws, but won billions of dollars in spending to make child care more affordable.
My colleagues Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Grace Ashford exposed the broader tensions between lawmakers and the governor over how to respond to multiple crises, such as the socio-economic effects of the pandemic and increasingly dire projections of the pandemic. impact of climate change.
Hochul, a Democrat, is looking to appeal to centrist voters ahead of a gubernatorial campaign where public safety concerns are expected to be highlighted. Democrats to his left seek to help struggling workers, tackle inequality and reduce fossil fuel consumption.
The exact numbers won’t start to emerge until all the legislation is introduced. For now, here are some highlights:
A stadium for the Bills
Trumping opponents who called the plan a corporate welfare plan, Hochul won lawmakers’ approval for the largest state grant for a stadium in NFL history. The deal with the Buffalo Bills, which she said was necessary to keep them in Western New York, pumps $600 million in government funds and $250 million from Erie County into a new 1-star stadium. .4 billion dollars.
The budget includes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts to ease the burden on New Yorkers struggling with soaring gasoline prices, including suspending some state gasoline taxes from June until at the end of the year.
The program aims to make hundreds of thousands more children eligible for subsidized child care by expanding subsidies to families earning up to three times the federal poverty level. It would provide $343 million to help child care providers strained by the pandemic and boost their reimbursement rates. It would also offer an additional $125 million for universal pre-K.
Other additional spending would increase wages for home-based workers and expand health care coverage for undocumented immigrants.
The budget proposes changes to a 2019 bail law that made only the most serious crimes eligible for cash bail. Albany leaders say these changes are not responsible for the increase in crime in New York, but that the compromise agreement will help, in particular to reduce gun violence. New measures would change the way certain gun crimes are handled, allow for arrests for certain repeat offenses and ease the burden on prosecutors to quickly turn over documents to the defence.
There is also new funding for mental health services and provisions to expand the use of Kendra’s Law, which mandates the treatment of people with mental illness who pose a danger to themselves or others.
The gas tax cuts have angered some Democrats who want a bigger increase in spending to fight and prepare for climate change, especially because the budget deal left out an ambitious proposal Ms Hochul backed. to ban oil and gas hookups in new buildings starting in 2027. The move would have made New York the first state to stop adding oil and gas stoves and heaters and to require that new buildings only use electricity.
But it included a $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act to help fund projects to protect against climate change, and a commitment to make school bus fleets 100% electric by 2035.
It’s a mostly sunny day in the 60s, with scattered showers late into the night and temperatures dropping into the mid-40s.
In effect until Thursday (Maundy Thursday).
A new Yankees season
The Yankees’ first game starts today at 1:05 p.m. at home. They play against the Red Sox.
The rain forecast led to the postponement of the opener, which was scheduled for Thursday – adding a day to an offseason that had already been extended by a week when Major League Baseball and the players’ union worked to negotiate a new collective agreement. .
The rain delay also gave the Yankees an extra day to negotiate a contract extension with outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge, who can be a free agent after this season, had said he would not negotiate with the team once the games started. No agreement had been reached Thursday evening.
The latest news from New York
Manhattan DA denies stopping investigating Trump
More than a month ago, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg rejected a plan to present charges against Donald J. Trump to a grand jury. The two main prosecutors leading the three-year investigation have resigned in protest, a warning in a resignation letter that not prosecuting the former president would be “a serious breach of justice”.
Now Mr. Bragg has spoken out on the matter for the first time, saying he is still continuing the investigation and that prosecutors have recently interviewed new witnesses and reviewed new documents.
Citing grand jury secrecy rules, he declined to give further details or say whether he had developed a new theory that made him more confident of victory in the case, which focuses on whether Mr. Trump has committed a crime by inflating the value of his hotels. , golf courses and other properties.
As my colleagues Jonah E. Bromwich, William K. Rashbaum, and Ben Protess report, Bragg sought to address the criticism that erupted when Mark F. Pomerantz’s resignation letter was published in The New York Times.
The letter said the investigation had been “suspended indefinitely” even though Trump was “guilty of numerous criminal violations,” and that Pomerantz and the other prosecutor, Carey R. Dunne, had tried but failed to convince Bragg. that the case could be won and should be brought regardless of the outcome.
In a nearly hour-long interview at his office on Thursday, Mr. Bragg disputed Pomerantz’s account. But he gave no details on the progress of the investigation, saying only that he had “shelved” any approach to the case, now led by another senior prosecutor, Susan Hoffinger.
He promised to announce any final decision he might make on whether or not to indict Trump or others.
“I’m the district attorney,” Mr. Bragg said. “I own that decision.”
What we read
On Presidents Day, about three dozen people of varying ages gathered at the entrance to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for a family walk with the birds. You couldn’t have asked for a better winter: sunny, not too cold, light breeze.
Our guide, a woman wearing a bucket hat adorned with colorful bird prints, made some introductory remarks, and we were on our way.
“Yellow-bellied woodpecker,” she shouted 10 minutes into the walk.
The group stopped short. Binoculars were raised, fingers pointed, viewing tips shared.
Other birds we encountered included a downy woodpecker, a Cooper’s hawk (a blue jay’s warning calls alerted us to its presence) and a white-throated sparrow camouflaged in the dense branches of a bush.
Towards the end of the walk, a bird somewhere ahead began to sing.
“Cardinal,” announced the guide, and the search began.
In the flurry of activity, I wondered if anyone else was paying attention to the brilliant whistling melody.
“Isn’t singing wonderful? I asked loud enough for everyone to hear.
At least one other member of the group, a man, heard me.
“It looks like a car alarm to me,” he said.
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Submit your submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we can meet here. James Barron will be back on Monday. – A B
PS Here is today’s one Mini-crosswords and spelling bee. You can find all our puzzles here.