Albany lawmakers are focused on the future this week. They returned to the Capitol to lay down a schedule for when they return in January, which includes dealing with a multi-billion dollar budget deficit. Nick Reisman reports.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Assembly Democrats are back in Albany for the week, as they consider what to do about a $4.6 billion budget deficit. Speaker Carl Heastie says his goals for the New Year, however, won't change much.
“The economy goes in cycles. I learned that in business school. This is one of the tougher times, but as best we can, we'll continue to stand up for what our priorities are,” said Heastie.
And that agenda from Assembly Democrats typically includes finding more money for education and increasing taxes on wealthier New Yorkers in order to pay for it. But a push in Congress to overhaul taxes on the federal level and end the deduction of state and local taxes could make a tax hike on the rich more difficult.
“Obviously, we have as a conference continued to support raising the tax rates on the highest income New Yorkers. Frankly, what's going on in Washington could even impact that,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle.
Republicans point out New York is already one of the higher taxed states in the country, along with California and New Jersey, whose leaders are also opposed to the federal tax plan.
“Let's make no bones about it. I mean, this is a high-tax state. That's why people have left the state,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who is considering a run for governor next year, says the concerns over the deficit are potentially overstated, but is a sign spending needs to get under control.
“We still have, I think, a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” said Kolb.
Adding to the potential for disruption is the leadership battle brewing in the state Senate. Speaker Heastie says he wants Democrats there to form a unity coalition, but isn't worried Senate Republicans will try to upend the budget talks in the meantime.
“There's a point for politics and there's a point for governing. I don't really see the Senate Republicans really doing anything other than their job and the politics of what runs the house will take care of itself,” Heastie said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to give his State of the State address in Albany, returning to a traditional format. Last year. Cuomo gave separate versions of the address in different regions of the state.