State budget stretches past deadline

Mar 31, 2017

Governor Cuomo and New York State lawmakers missed the 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.

Governor Cuomo, in a statement, shortly after midnight  told lawmakers that they had a “grace period” for 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.

It was a chaotic end to the fiscal year at the state Capitol.

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

Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco 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.


Senator 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, and ocntnued to meet far into the evening.


Another outstanding issue tied to the budget is whether to raise the age of for when teens are treated as adults in state prisons from16 to 18 year of age. 


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


Senator Patrick Gallivan, 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.”

A last minute social media campaign from supporters of Raise the Age kept up the pressure, and Heastie, along with the Independent Democrats in the Senate said by late evening that they would not agree to a budget without the measure.

Other 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, Democrats in the Assembly do not.