New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s first state budget will not be on time.
The state’s fiscal year begins Friday without a spending plan after ordinary lawmakers were allowed to leave the Capitol on Thursday despite failing to reach an agreement. Hochul and legislative leaders continued to bicker over issues such as bail reform and casinos in New York City, failing to reach consensus before the midnight deadline.
For years, late budgets have been held up in Albany as a symbol of government failure. But Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat representing Yonkers, told reporters that Hochul and lawmakers were nearing an agreement on key issues and would still have a “timely” agreement — although lawmakers are not at this time is scheduled to return to session at the Capitol by Monday.
“I will say that we are close on many issues,” she said. “May I say everything is locked down? No. But on many issues we are very close.”
The lack of a budget leaves several key issues up in the air as Hochul and lawmakers continue to negotiate issues such as a push for billions of dollars in childcare grants and a pay rise for home care workers. Hochul’s preliminary budget was $216 billion.
Until Monday, however, there will be little practical impact. If lawmakers don’t approve a budget or a temporary extension by 4 p.m., more than 60,000 institutional state employees — including correctional officers and nurses — could see their paychecks put on hold pending a budget, according to the state audit office.
The budget negotiations have been turned upside down in recent weeks by two major moves by Hochul.
The first came on March 16, when Hochul sent lawmakers a 10-point criminal justice plan that would make significant changes to the state’s landmark bail and investigation reforms. Her plan, which has met with fierce opposition from progressives, would make it easier for judges to issue cash bail on repeat offenders and those deemed a danger to the community.
The second came Monday when Hochul’s office announced an agreement to build a $1.4 billion new stadium for her hometown of Buffalo Bills, with taxpayers collecting $850 million of the construction cost. The state’s share would be $600 million, which Hochul plans to include in the budget despite criticism from lawmakers who say the money could be better spent. Erie County, home of the Bills, would raise $250 million to build the stadium.
In a statement Thursday, Hochul said she continues to have “productive conversations” with Stewart cousins and assembly speaker Carl Heastie.
“We are approaching an agreement with consensus on key policy issues,” she said. “New Yorkers should know that progress is being made and that we will invest the time it takes to reach an agreement that works for them and moves our state forward.”
Stewart cousins and Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, representing Queens, were careful to strike a generally optimistic tone. But Gianaris acknowledged that Hochul’s late political forays had clearly complicated negotiations.
“[Hochul’s] fighting hard for the issues she cares about and we are doing the same,” Gianaris said. “I think the unfortunate part is that towards the end a significant amount of non-budgetary issues were thrown into the mix and that slowed us down.”
Lawmakers were told Thursday afternoon they could return home to their districts while Hochul and lawmakers continued negotiations. On the Senate side, lawmakers are expected to hold a closed-door conference on Sunday on any progress in the negotiations, with a goal of voting on draft budgets on Monday.
“We definitely feel the pressure to get this done by Monday,” said Senator Jessica Ramos, who also represents Queens.
https://gothamist.com/news/gov-hochul-lawmakers-to-miss-new-york-budget-deadline Governor Hochul, the legislature misses the New York budget deadline