With state budget still not finished, Cuomo sends extender budget to lawmakers
The state budget is now three days late and negotiations remain at an impasse. Now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking legislative leaders to extend last year's budget through the end of May while Democrats and Republicans continue working to settle their differences.
The extender budget would allow the state government to keep operating. But scheduled spending increases for everything from schools to infrastructure to Medicaid wouldn't take effect until lawmakers approve the budget for fiscal year 2018, which began on Saturday.
Cuomo has staked much of his reputation on fixing dysfunction in Albany by delivering budgets on time, instead of months later, a frequent occurrence in years past. In a written statement released shortly before midnight Sunday, Cuomo blamed the "ultraconservative Congress,” but not the Trump administration, for financial uncertainty. He also said affordable housing spending, tax breaks for developers and raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 remain as sticking points.
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D-Rochester), says getting a budget soon is important, but getting the right agreement is even more crucial.
“We're working hard. Obviously, we've been here through the weekend. We'll continue to work as long as it takes to get this done.”
Dick Dadey of Citizen’s Union, says the Raise the Age legislation is the reason why the state budget was not completed on time.
“This thing is, what is holding up the budget, this issue. And we didn’t used to see big policy issues like Raise the Age get addressed during the budget,” said Dadey.
If approved, 16- and 17-year-olds accused of certain crimes would be moved out of the criminal justice system, where they are charged now, to family court, which would require more funding to handle new cases.
Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy (D-Albany) says it’s a matter of changing the budgeting state funds.
“I would personally like to see that we take some of the funding from the adult courts to give to the family courts,” said Fahy.
Raise the Age isn’t the only outstanding issue in the budget. Others include tax credits for affordable housing in New York City, school funding for the state’s public and charter schools and the governor’s proposal that would provide free college tuition to families making less than $125,000 a year.
As Dadey puts it, a last-minute budget with so many policy issues included is problematic.
“All this stuff gets decided behind closed doors away from public view,” said Dadey. “There’s no public scrutiny, and the budget bills that are being passed are being passed as soon as they are placed on the desks of the legislators. There are no three-day waiting periods for people to review them, for the legislators to look over them as well as for the public to have access to them. So it’s not the way the state should be passing a budget.”
The state budget is expected to come in over $150 billion.