The New York state budget is officially late.
There was a time in Albany when lawmakers would actually stop the clock a little before midnight on March 31, so the time stamp on the voting sheets would mark an “on-time budget.” But there was no attempt at stopping the clock this year and lawmakers reluctantly embraced the missed deadline.
“When people wake up tomorrow and we haven't completed the full budget, it's going to have no impact on their lives or their budgets, or whether their government is operating in the state of New York,” Senate Finance Chair Senator Liz Krueger said on the Senate floor Wednesday night. “So, we're not perfect. I believe we're going to get there just a few days late, and I don't think any real harm will be done.”
Technically, the budget is due by April 1, but this is by no means the first late budget in New York’s history.
However, with the growing number of scandals surrounding Governor Andrew Cuomo, many have questioned his ability to stay focused during budget negotiations. According to sources, legislative leaders and the governor are a ways off from a three-way finalized budget agreement and the budget could finish passing as late as Saturday or next week.
Both the Senate and Assembly were able to pass the Debt Services budget bill late Wednesday night. This bill authorizes the state to pay its bondholders, and almost every year, the state passes at least this bill on time.
This is, however, only one out of the ten budget bills that need to be finalized over the next several days. And according to Senator Krueger, even the debt services bill was lacking some specifics.
“We have quite a few budget bills remaining to get done. We don't have them," Krueger said. "In fact, because we don't have them, some of the information in this bill right now, or at least in the memos, is hypothetical about what we expect our borrowing will be next year. So, we didn't want to bring a bill to the floor, where we didn't have all the information, because we prefer not to. But we also know, because of what this bill does make clear to the people of New York, and the people we have borrowed money from that New York State continues to operate in good faith.”
There are two other budget bills that have also been introduced as of Wednesday night. The Transportation, Economic Development, and Environmental budget bill (TEDE) and the Legislative and Judiciary budget bill. Once bills are introduced, they need three days to “age” before they can be voted on. Otherwise, lawmakers would need what is called a “message of necessity” from the governor.
According to legislative sources, one of the big roadblocks in budget negotiations is the proposal to increase taxes on the wealthy. Both the Senate and Assembly are proposing tax increases on high income earners that would generate a little over $7 billion in revenue. However per sources, the governor is pushing back. State Budget Director Robert Mujica said Wednesday morning on NY1 that they are working to “strike a balance” on this issue.
“Making sure we fund the items to help New Yorkers, at the same time, striking a balance so that we don’t reach a tipping point where instead of helping with the recovery we’re actually harming it.”
Other sticking points, according to sources, are specific details on the mobile sports betting bill and potentially funds for statewide Pre-K.
What happens now that the budget is late?
The first payroll of the new fiscal year is on April 8. However, the state comptroller said they need a law in place by April 5 so there are no “delays with processing this payroll” for public employees.
What’s left? There are seven budget bills still being negotiated as of Wednesday night.
- State Operations, (this is the budget bill that is in charge of keeping the agencies running)
- Capital Projects
- Aid to Localities (this is the budget bill responsible for school aid and Medicaid)
- Education, Labor and Family Assistance
- Health and Mental Hygiene
- Public Protection/General Government