Republicans in the state Senate on Tuesday criticized the escalating spending in New York's budget as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul work toward a deal by Saturday's deadline.
But reaching a deal between Democrats who control the state Legislature and Hochul remains seemingly elusive at this point, and lawmakers in both parties were expecting to work at least into next week to reach a compromise.
A bill dealing with New York's debt service is being voted on Tuesday in the state Assembly, the first of 10 budget bills lawmakers must approve to have a completed budget. The bill is typically a pro forma one, but also represents the start of the formal process of reaching a conclusion.
Differences remain between Democrats and Hochul over making changes to New York's law that limits cash bail for many criminal charges as well as proposals for a statewide housing plan the governor has touted throughout this month.
Hochul has not ruled out holding up a final budget agreement in order to win preferred changes on provisions like the bail law.
Hochul and lawmakers are also negotiating a potential increase in the state's minimum wage. Hochul has backed linking the minimum wage to inflation, with a cap in place if inflation grows too quickly.
Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill that would set the wage at $21.25 by 2027. The current minimum wage is $15 in the New York City area and $14.20 in counties north of Westchester County.
"I think all of leadership is on the same page knowing that New Yorkers are feeling the squeeze and need to see a raise," said Democratic state Sen. Jessica Ramos, who is sponsoring the measure with Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner. "The difference in proposals is largely around how we do it."
Republicans, meanwhile, criticized mandates that could be given final approval in a budget agreement for housing development and taxes.
“New Yorkers deserve to live in a state where they are free – free to walk down safe streets, free to make the choices they feel are best for their families, free to decide how to heat their home and cook their food, free to exercise their constitutional rights, free from crushing taxes and an overreaching government that hampers their quality of life," said state Sen. Andrew Lanza. "We lose more and more New Yorkers every year to other states – we need to reverse the trend of big government and burdensome mandates and create a state that is freer, safer, and more affordable."
New York's fiscal year begins Saturday. But lawmakers have been told by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office a spending measure funding state government must be in place by next Monday in order to pay more than 55,000 state workers.
Lawmakers could approve an emergency spending bill to keep the government funded as the state budget negotiations continue.