These City & State readers knew the budget would be done on 4/20

Nine people, including the co-director of the WFP and an Assembly member’s chief of staff, correctly guessed the date the budget would be finished – but only one will win a City & State bath mat.

The highly coveted City & State bath mat.

The highly coveted City & State bath mat. City & State

More than 300 people entered City & State’s 2024 budget poll, submitting their best guesses for when the budget would be finished. Most of the guesses ended up being too optimistic, while a few were wildly cynical (June 19, really?) but nine respondents correctly guessed that the budget would be finished on Saturday, April 20.

When asked to explain their guesses, many of the finalists couldn’t resist a pun – or a criticism of the final budget.

“I picked 4/20 because we had high expectations for the budget, but once again the governor fell short of the mark,” said Jasmine Gripper, co-director of the state Working Families Party. “I hoped for an on-time budget that engaged in good faith with the Legislature's demands, (but) I guessed 4/20 knowing that Governor Hochul would fight against proposals like basic tenant protections and higher taxes on the rich. It's disappointing that we ended up with a budget that fails to adequately address the high cost of living in our state."

“I picked 4/20 because it was a very special ‘High Holiday,’ especially with all the pot stores all over the city,” said Howard Schoenfeld, a board member of the JFK Democratic Club who goes by @RIDESTHEQ46 on X. “It was just a wild guess.”

Kat Capossela, senior press officer for New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, joked that “some might say I had the ‘fore’-sight and 20/20 vision” to make the right guess.

Naomi Dann, chief of staff at tenant rights group Housing Justice For All, even managed to work a reference to the poll’s grand prize – a custom City & State bath mat – into a lament about the final budget’s exclusion of housing vouchers. “Despite going into overtime to try to address the housing crisis, Governor Hochul's late budget did not fund the Housing Access Voucher Program – meaning that more than 100,000 homeless New Yorkers won't be able to get a bath mat in a home of their own,” she said.

Mary Jane Dessables, a consultant, said that she guessed April 20 because it was one of the last days before Passover. “As for why I chose 4/20, my years of experience (and years of reading City & State and the New York Nonprofit Media every morning) told me it wouldn't be done by Easter, but probably by the Passover/spring break,” she said.

Ben Wolcott, chief of staff to Assembly Member Sarahana Shrestha, put it even more succinctly: “Most deadlines are self imposed, but Hashem says when Passover vacation starts.”

Although nine different people guessed the correct date, there can be only one winner of the coveted City & State bath mat – the person whose guess came closest to the exact time that the Legislature passed the final budget bill. 

Most of the nine finalists guessed that the budget would be finished in the early hours of Saturday morning, following an all-night voting session. But that’s not what happened. Instead, legislators took a break Friday night and then reconvened on Saturday, finishing later that afternoon. The final budget bill passed the Assembly at about 4:15 pm.

Jonathan Lee Wong came closest, with a guess of exactly 4:20 pm on 4/20, and he’s the winner of the custom City & State bath mat!

“I'm thrilled to have won City & State's budget poll!” Wong wrote in an email. “Guessing 4:20 pm on April 20th was a playful nod to the date's cultural significance. As for the budget itself, I'm optimistic about the direction it will take our city and state. Winning the bath mat is just perfect timing – I can already imagine it adding some much-needed comfort to our nightly baby bath routine with our 9-week-old, 3-year-old and 5-year-old!”

The other eight finalists won’t go home empty-handed. They’ll each receive a discount code to City & State’s online merch shop, where they can purchase their own bath mats – or anything else from our very bizarre online store.

Stay tuned to City & State for more coverage of the $237 billion state budget, and don’t forget to enter our annual budget poll next year!