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New York state budget will be at least 10 days late

state capitol building
UpstateNYer
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CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons
The eastern side of the New York state Capitol in Albany, NY.

The New York state budget will be at least 10 days late, now that Gov. Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature have missed the April 1 deadline and agreed to pass a spending extender that will keep state government running until the day after Easter.

In a statement, Hochul said that while she and the Legislature have been “negotiating in good faith,” they still have not agreed on some top items on her agenda. Those include her proposals to further revise the state’s 2019 bail reform laws and to enact a plan to address the affordable housing crisis by building 800,000 new dwelling units over the next few years.

Hochul said that passing a bill to keep the state running until after the Passover and Easter holidays will give them more time to try to reach a deal.

Lawmakers lost no time in passing the measures and exiting the Capitol for another week.

Hochul, speaking on the last day of the fiscal year on March 31, said she’s not giving up on seeking changes to the bail laws that would eliminate the requirement that judges use the “least restrictive means” when deciding whether to hold someone accused of a crime before they go on trial.

“I’m looking to restore people's confidence in our system. Part of that has to do with fixing some of the bail laws that I believe don't give the judges the clarity that they need to have,” Hochul said. “There is an inconsistency in our law right now. That's what I'm striving to fix with respect to the ‘least restrictive means’ in particular.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the issue has dominated budget talks.

“It’s bail, bail, bail,” Heastie said. “And then, I guess, we’ll figure everything else out.”

But so far, Democrats who lead the Senate and Assembly have not agreed to Hochul’s proposal.

Heastie said lawmakers also have not yet settled on how much money is available to spend on programs, and whether new taxes on the wealthy would be needed to finance them.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli had warned that if an extender was not in place by the end of the business day Monday, there might be a delay in paying about 57,000 state workers. Senators and Assembly members are due to be paid next on April 12, but if the budget is not in place by then, under law, their pay will be withheld until the spending plan is approved.

Heastie said a pay delay will not influence lawmakers to decide any sooner if they don’t believe the spending plan is right for their constituents.

“Not getting paid is not going to be a driving factor to have members accept a deal that they don’t like,” he said.

Republicans, who are in the minority party in both houses, blamed the Democratic governor and Legislature for failing to meet the deadline.

“Do I want to come back next week? No,” said Senate GOP Leader Robert Ortt. “Will I? Obviously.

“If we have to sit here through all next week, then that’s what we’ve got to do, because the public deserves a budget,” he added.

Ortt said he expects that when lawmakers return next Monday, after the current extender runs out, they’ll have to pass another one to keep the state going.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.