New York will start its fiscal year without a state budget in place as Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers have failed to reach the April 1 deadline amid differences over issues that range from housing policy to making alterations to a 2019 bail law.
Talks are expected to continue into the weekend between the governor and the top Democrats in the state Legislature. But rank-and-file members of the state Assembly and Senate have left the building, and despite the warnings from legislative leaders, indicated they will be out of Albany for at least part of the weekend with no agreement appearing imminent.
"To have one of the largest businesses in the state setting this type of example certainly sends the wrong messages to households and businesses in our state," said Republican Assemblyman Steve Hawley.
Late budgets in New York were once a hallmark in state government. Negotiations in some years could stretch even into the summer, with a record-setting budget once approved in August.
But in the last decade, budgets were typically completed by the start of the fiscal year, April 1. That has changed in the last several years, with Hochul and Democrats placing less emphasis on meeting the deadline than former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
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A late budget means lawmakers will likely have to approve an emergency spending bill by the end of the day on Monday so more than 55,000 state workers can be paid, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Friday said. State lawmakers will also not be paid until a budget is finalized.
"If it's in the short term it probably doesn't matter a lot in the grand scheme of things, but on the other hand we don't want to spend anymore money than we have to," said Democratic Assemblyman Phil Steck.
The budget logjam centers around Hochul's desire to change New York's law that ended cash bail for many criminal charges — pushing a measure meant to make it easier for judges to consider bail for serious criminal charges by ending the so-called least restrictive standard.
"I think a lot of the discussion of public safety is often times very much about symbolism and not about trying to protect the public," Steck said.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt has said the bail proposal from the governor doesn't go far enough.
"I can't think of anything more modest that would have any actual impact than what she's proposed and even that is too much for Assembly and Senate Democrats," Ortt said on Friday.
The budget could also result in a higher minimum wage, measures that would end newly constructed fossil fuel powered buildings and a tax hike on people making more than $5 million a year.
But an agreement on bail is the key issue for Hochul.
"There's progress being made in many areas, but in terms of what the leaders are talking about, we want to make sure we can resolve these matters," Hochul said, "and then the other issues will fall very quickly in line."