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NYCLU Statements on Passage of State Budget

ALBANY, NY – Following Governor Hochul and the State Legislature’s finalization of the state budget for FY 2025, the New York Civil Liberties Union released statements today on the following provisions and exclusions:

Increased Funding for Abortion

“By enacting the Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program, the state took a historic step to make abortion rights a reality for everyone in our state,” said Allie Bohm, senior policy counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “This program creates a sustainable state funding mechanism for abortion providers and abortion funds, bringing us closer to a world where New Yorkers can freely make decisions about their futures and bodies. While this is an important step in the right direction, our lawmakers must do more to remove all barriers limiting abortion accessibility, including by investing in practical support for patients seeking care and capital improvements for abortion providers.”

Election Database

“Centralizing New York’s key voting and election data in the State Board of Elections is a vast improvement over the status quo,” said Perry Grossman, director of the voting rights project at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “But the bill misses a critical opportunity to empower our public universities to provide policymakers, scholars, and the public with critical data to fulfill the promise of the landmark John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York. We hope the legislature will follow Connecticut’s lead and create a truly nation-leading database.”

Excluding Temporary Disability Insurance Improvements

“When New Yorkers have serious health needs — from cancer treatment to pregnancy loss — they should be able to take time off from work to take care of their health and recovery,” said Allie Bohm, senior policy counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “By failing to increase temporary disability insurance benefits and ensure workers aren’t fired during their leave, New York is continuing to deny people the security they need during a health crisis. We all deserve time to take care of our health. We thank the legislature for their efforts and look forward to working with them to protect New York workers.”

Watered Down Eviction Protections

“The Good Cause eviction provisions passed in the budget are an affront to New Yorkers who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads amid our state’s affordable housing crisis and record-high homelessness,” said Julian Morales, senior housing strategist with the New York Civil Liberties Union. “These provisions deny millions of renters across the state basic protections from unfair rent hikes and evictions. We urge lawmakers to close gaps in eviction protections, and ensure that a comprehensive, statewide Good Cause proposal is adopted.”

Hate Crime Prosecution

“Creating new crimes and increasing punishments won’t prevent hateful or violent behavior,” said Justin Harrison, senior policy counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Rather than addressing the social problems that lead to hate in the first place, Governor Hochul and lawmakers are misplacing their efforts. We cannot give the government free rein to pick and choose who to prosecute based on whether it agrees with that person’s beliefs.”

Unjust Sentences for Retail Theft 

“The Governor and State Legislature’s move to further criminalize felony theft is not targeted to address organized retail crime, will serve to severely punish young people and low-income individuals, and will exacerbate an already overly punitive felony theft threshold,” said Naila Awan, interim co-director of policy at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “It is backwards and ineffective to respond to low-level retail theft—often a crime of poverty—with increased criminalization. Instead of backsliding on justice, Albany lawmakers should address the root causes of many of these crimes through increased community investment.”

New York Privacy Act 

“The NYCLU and our partners fought against the toothless, ineffective New York Privacy Act and lawmakers listened by leaving it out of the budget. Now, they should abandon it altogether,” said Justin Harrison, senior policy counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “This bill would be a gift to big business. It would do almost nothing to curb data collection, regulate the purchase, sale, or use of people’s data, or protect vulnerable people whose intimate details can be, and often are, used to criminalize and exploit them. Rather than giving New Yorkers a false sense of protection, legislators should reject the New York Privacy Act in favor of better, more comprehensive privacy bills like the Digital Fairness Act, which puts control back in peoples’ hands.”

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