Time Running Out To Pass State Budget On Time

Cuomo has had state budgets completed on or before April 1 since he took office, and he has touted that he ended two decades of Albany having late budgets - which was often held up as a sign of dysfunction at the Capitol.

The State Senate was the first to call it quits.

The Democrat-controlled Assembly stayed in recess as members awaited word on whether they'd be voting on any budget legislation.

Assemblyman Ray Walter, R-Amherst, said budget talks so far have been dysfunctional and are making little progress.

While raise the age remained the most significant outstanding issue Friday, the details of other budget items were still being negotiated in closed-door horse-trading sessions.

Thorny issues, such as increasing the age of criminal responsibility from age 16 to 18 and how to fund schools, slowed down negotiations. "It's the same issues we've been talking about for the last three weeks".

Other contentious issues involved the debate over how much to spend on education and how much of that money to spend on charter schools.

The ongoing dispute over the issue known as "raise the age" dashed any hope of the budget being passed by Saturday, when a new fiscal year began and the budget became officially late.

"We can never come to an agreement", he said Friday, discussing certain sticking points that are holding up budget approval.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, said if legislative leaders and Cuomo reach a late Friday deal, the Senate could return Saturday.

The Democratic counterproposal, dubbed the Empire State Equity Act, would adjust the formula that guides the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, which are used to determine the amount of federal matching funds that go to the states, in order to net NY an additional $2.3 billion (a 4 percent boost).

Lawmakers would not get paid under a budget extender. Alternatively, Republicans propose creating a "youth court" within the justice system for violent youthful offenders.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and his fellow Democrats have long wanted to change state law so young offenders are prosecuted in family court.

The impasse had some GOP sources suggesting that the raise the age issue might be removed from budget talks and dealt with later in the year in order to speed adoption of a new spending plan.

Some lawmakers are saying they aren't leaving the State Capital without passing a budget before the start of the fiscal year.

"It's a very hard thing to ask me - would I consider a budget without raise the age", said Heastie, D-Bronx.

"For a federal government that frankly looks like it has been targeting NY ... this is something that finally says there is fairness and there's a light at the end of the tunnel", Cuomo said.

"It's like a game of whack-a-mole", DeFrancisco said.

The scenario threatens to present Cuomo with what would be the latest budget of his tenure.

As night fell Thursday, the state Capitol fell silent as lawmakers headed to their hotels, motels and part-time rentals.

  • Joanne Flowers