ALBANY – It appears that a deal has not been reached in the effort to pass a new state budget, now nearly a week overdue.
Budget talks between the legislature and governor collapsed Wednesday night after members of the Senate left the Capitol, with lawmakers from both parties blaming Gov. Andrew Cuomo for scuttling negotiations over the spending plan, now several days late.
Members of the Senate and Assembly insist they were close to an agreement and hoped to pass a budget this week after blowing past a Saturday deadline. Those hopes eroded Wednesday night after Cuomo summoned reporters to his office to say that while he would continue to negotiate, there were still significant disputes when it came to key budget priorities.
On Monday, at Cuomo’s insistence, lawmakers passed a two-month budget extension to ensure vital government functions continued until a final budget deal was approved. Cuomo said the extension, which also included funds for several big transportation and economic development projects, would give lawmakers time to reach a good deal.
Republican Senate Leader John Flanagan of Long Island said he would call the Senate back into session when a deal is reached. Members of the Assembly said they would return Thursday in hopes of reviving the talks.
Major sticking points included education spending and an affordable housing tax credit for New York City developers. Another dispute centered on a Democratic proposal to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18. As late as Wednesday evening, lawmakers said they were close to resolution, and both chambers had begun voting on budget bills, but that was before the governor announced he still had reservations regarding the budget plan.
Senator Cathy Young (R-Olean), who serves as the Senate Finance Committee Chair, released the following statement Wednesday night:
“The Senate worked through the wee hours of the morning passing budget bills on Tuesday, and we were in the Capitol working, ready to pass the remaining budget bills on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the New York City-controlled Assembly blew up the process by going back on issues that already had been agreed upon. I am fighting for tax relief and making sure the people of my district get their fair share. New York City legislators are trying to take for themselves our school aid for rural districts, and our upstate hospital funding. The Assembly speaker also reneged on a common sense agreement regarding Raise the Age that would protect public safety. The Senate’s position all along has been that juvenile offenders should not be incarcerated in adult prisons, and that troubled youth should receive counseling and other needed services. However, violent crimes such as rape and murder should not be decriminalized. We have ensured that government will keep on running because of the budget extender bill that was passed, and I urge the Assembly speaker to keep his word and agree to pass a responsible final budget that will cut taxes, grow jobs, properly fund our classrooms, protect public safety, and give everyone the opportunity to succeed.”
The failure to reach a deal is a defeat for legislative leaders and Cuomo, a possible White House contender in 2020 who touted a string of on-time budgets early in his tenure as evidence Albany had ended its tradition of government dysfunction.