New York budget likely to be late again as disputes continue

New York lawmakers are expected to miss the state’s budget deadline as negotiations over housing and education funding remain ongoing, a top official said Wednesday.

The due date for adopting a new state budget is April 1, but legislators are set to give themselves a extension early next week that will keep government functioning while talks continue, Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told reporters.

“We’re at the middle of the middle,” Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, said at a news conference in Albany.

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Budget negotiations — conducted in private between the Democrat leaders of the Senate and Assembly and Gov. Kathy Hochul — were expected to drag out beyond the deadline, which falls right after Easter, though officials have indicated that the meetings have been productive.

Lawmakers appear cautious to avoid the kind of blowup that delayed last year’s spending plan by more than a month as Democrats fought over bail laws and a plan to spur housing construction.

Still, familiar subjects have emerged as sticking points this year.

Lawmakers are trying to forge a deal on a housing plan that includes new construction, tenant protections and a tax break for developers to incentivize building in a state notorious for high rents and home costs.

FILE – The New York state Assembly Chamber is seen during a legislative session after Gov. Kathy Hochul presented her 2025 executive state budget at the state Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, in Albany, N.Y. New York lawmakers are expected to miss the state’s budget deadline as negotiations over housing and education funding remain ongoing, a top official said Wednesday, March 27, 2024.  (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

“We are all on the same planet. We’re all working towards trying to get that grand plan that will not only address affordability but address the needs of supply as well as the needs of tenant protections,” Stewart-Cousins said.

There has also been a split over Hochul’s proposal to raise criminal penalties for assaulting retail workers, part of her larger strategy to address crime concerns in the state. Legislative leaders rejected her plan not long after it was announced, arguing the state already has laws against assault and said enhancing penalties won’t stop crimes.

Another potential avenue for disagreement is Hochul’s proposal to change how the state gives out education funding to schools. The governor has said her plan would result in the state better directing money to districts that need additional funding. But it has drawn criticism because it would result in some districts getting less money.

Instead, legislative leaders have said the state should conduct a study around the state’s school funding formula to see how it could be improved in the future.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, told reporters earlier this week that an extension was possible but maintained that he, the Senate and the governor were on the same page, mostly.

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“Sometimes in the budget, you might be in a different galaxy,” Heastie said Tuesday, adding “I don’t know if we’re in the same country yet, but I think we’re on the same planet.

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