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Deadline to finalize state budget passes, talks continue

New York State Senate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers missed the midnight budget deadline after they failed to solidify deals on state spending and taxation, as well as some unrelated items like permitting ride hailing services outside of New York City.

Cuomo, in a statement shortly after midnight, told lawmakers that they had the rest of the weekend to reach agreement or accept a budget extender that would last as long as a month. Cuomo says the extender will help the state better cope with expected federal funding cuts from President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress in Washington.

The state Senate was the first to call it quits Friday. Senators met in session briefly late in the afternoon afternoon, but had nothing to vote on, because bills were still being negotiated.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) made the call on the Senate floor saying it was time to take a break and go home.

“As soon as everything is buttoned up and we can do the bills on a logical and hopefully during the day light time frame, we’ll be back here,” DeFrancisco said.

DeFrancisco said there were tentative deals on increasing tuition aid to college students, approving a bond act to protect water infrastructure and allowing ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft to operate outside of New York City.

But he says the trouble is getting everyone to agree to all of the details at once.

“It’s like a game of whack-a-mole,” DeFrancisco said. “It’s the same issues we’ve been talking about for the last three weeks.”

Several senators later returned to the Capitol at the urging of the governor.

Another outstanding issue tied to the budget is whether to raise the age when teens are treated as adults in state prisons from 16 to 18 years of age.

Senators and assemblymembers are still working on  how to treat 16 and 17-year olds charged with violent crimes. 

Sen. Patrick Gallivan (R-Elma), one of the key senators negotiating the bill, says there will eventually be an accord.

“Many people in the legislature have constituents that are demanding that they talk about it and do something about it,” Gallivan said. “No doubt, if it’s not in the budget, talks will continue.”

But Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, after a private meeting with his Democratic members, says it would be hard for him to give up on an issue that’s been a personal mission for him.

“It’s a very difficult thing to ask me, would I consider a budget without raise the age,” Heastie said. “It really means a lot to me.”

Other last minute sticking points included how much to increase school aid, and whether the state should lift a charter school cap. Republicans and Independent Democrats in the senate favor more charter schools, while Democrats in the Assembly do not.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.