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New York state budget late for second weekend

Governor Kathy Hochul says budget talks are continuing.
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Governor Kathy Hochul says budget talks are continuing.

The stalemate over the new state budget is continuing for a second weekend at the New York state capitol in Albany.

Everything from the Passover and Easter holidays to ongoing disagreement over public safety policy is being blamed for what could be the latest state budget in years. Governor Kathy Hochul and fellow Democratic leaders missed the April 1 deadline, acknowledging lingering disagreement over housing and tweaks Hochul wants to make to the state’s bail laws.

Hochul has spent much of the past week behind closed doors in Albany, saying discussion with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins continues. Hochul held an impromptu press conference at the capitol Wednesday, where she suggested another week of talks or more could be in store.

“Work is continuing through the weekend," she said. "But obviously the observance of the religious holidays, starting with Passover and happy Passover everybody, but also Easter this weekend, so the confluence of those dates at this time doesn't always happen, didn't happen last year, but because of that you sort of lose some time, and so we'll be able to pick up again in earnest after the holidays.”

One of the hurdles to approving the overdue budget is Hochul’s housing proposal. In her $227 billion plan unveiled in February, Hochul called for adding 800,000 new housing units around the state. But her plans face local opposition in communities around New York, especially downstate.

“The result is going to be allowing us to keep up with New Jersey and Connecticut and Philadelphia and watch the areas where they've actually never had barriers to growth. We have an opportunity to put the state in a whole new stratosphere in terms of the welcoming the people, affordable, allowing businesses and families to thrive here," Hochul said. "So that's the message I'm giving them, work with us. The plan is not what you think it is. It is giving you maximum flexibility. You decide if you want affordable, you decided if you want market rate, you decide if you want luxury, put it where you want. Just start growing again.”

As majority Democrats discuss the budget, Republicans are awaiting details. Senator Jake Ashby represents the Capital Region’s 43rd district.

“From my view, it seems as if they're pretty far apart on several of the issues that I think are instrumental in crafting this year's budget," he said. "Unfortunately, you know, we're going to have to wait. We're going to have to wait this out, but I also think it's an opportunity for us to push on some of these issues and offer potential strategies for them.”

Capital Region Democrat Pat Fahy represents the Assembly’s 109th district. She says the clock may keep ticking when lawmakers return to Albany.

“It's a possibility. Just simply because of the way the calendar is working with the holidays. We no longer do Zoom meetings and we really don't do Zoom briefings. So, the members have to be here and it's out of respect to those who do observe those holidays," she said. "So, next week is going to be a little bit interrupted as well. So while I hope we'll be able to do some work when we come back, it's hard to imagine; you really need the whole long week.”

Lawmakers approved a budget extender through Monday on April 3 to make sure the state payroll would stay on schedule. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says if the budget is still outstanding by April 10, administrative payroll for 83,000 state employees would be affected and require another extender.

The Democrat noted state lawmakers’ paychecks due April 12 will be withheld if the budget isn’t in place.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.