We are now exactly three weeks away from when the state budget is due. Usually, closed-door negotiations with legislative leaders start to become more frequent and activists pack the hallways with their signs and chanting, but, with coronavirus concerns taking priority, the Capitol has been relatively silent.
However, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says the Legislature is staying on track with the budget and it will still be passed on time.
“We should be the most responsible people in the state and to provide leadership so we’re going to do our jobs. There have been no discussions with [Governor Andrew Cuomo] about a rush budget, ending [the] session, nothing like that,” said Speaker Heastie.
Heastie did not go into any details on a contingency plan in case a group of lawmakers are quarantined for an extended period of time, but said if lawmakers feel sick they should stay at home and treat it like the “flu on steroids."
When it comes to the budget, many issues that were huge priorities even a week ago have been swept a little bit under the rug. When asked about bail reform, Speaker Heastie said he is still waiting to see more data and wants to wait on any changes.
However, Senator Monica Martinez says she is still adamant there need to be some amendments to these laws before she signs any sort of budget.
“If those amendments are not common sense enough for [myself] and others, then I can not support anything that will jeopardize the lives of others,” Senator Martinez said. “And the governor has been told by me personally if any amendments are not in this budget, I will not be voting for this budget.”
On Monday, Cuomo said the state is also talking about pushing forward paid sick leave legislation. This would give people five days of paid sick leave and is being amended to include people being quarantined for the coronavirus.
Speaker Heastie said he has been in talks with Cuomo and they will most likely be advancing this legislation at the beginning of next week. Other budget priorities that have not seen movement is recreational marijuana and paid gestational surrogacy.