The controversy surrounding New York's new cashless bail law could be defused as part of the state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday in a radio interview on AM 970.
Cuomo in an interview with businessman and political donor John Catsimatidis for the first time acknowledged the budget is the likely destination for making alterations to the law, which ended cash bail requirements for misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges.
"We're talking to everyone. What's the continuing change, the continuing refinement and we're having those conversations right now and I believe when we do the state budget April 1, that by the time we get to budget we will have had a chance to look at the data, look at the facts and decide what to do intelligently," Cuomo said in the interview. "I don't want to respond to politics."
State lawmakers have themselves said any changes to the law would likely be contained in a broader budget agreement by the end of next month.
The law was approved as part of a suite of criminal justice law changes last year meant to prevent people from languishing in jail.
Law enforcement officials and Republicans for the last half year have blasted the measure, arguing it puts the public at risk for releasing people who have been accused of crimes like domestic violence and robbery.
Supporters of the law have said the cases highlighted by opponents are being sensationalized and in many instances do not apply to the law.
Still, support for the law has flipped since it was approved as a provision in the 2019 budget.
Democrats who represent swing and moderate legislative districts have proposed changes.
Democrats in the state Senate are backing a compromise that would cash bail entirely, but give judges authority to determine if a person should be released pending trial.
The proposal was criticized by Democratic lawmakers in the state Assembly and advocates who support the current law. Judicial discretion, they say, will have the effect of discriminating against defendants of color.
Cuomo, meanwhile, has publicly sought to remain out of the legislative fray. The budget talks, however, will enter a new phase when state lawmakers return to Albany after this week's mid-winter break.
"It's not one change then you're done," he said in the radio interview. "You make a change, you watch, you refine, you recalibrate, and that's what the Legislature is working on now and I'm working with them."