Earlier this week, both New York legislative houses outlined their budget priorities as state leaders move through the budget negotiation process. The process is far from over as many late nights await lawmakers before the April 1 deadline.

Shontell Smith, former chief of staff for the state Senate Democrats turned executive vice president and co-head of the New York Practice at Tusk Strategies, told Capital Tonight that when the budget passes is dependent on “how hard people fight” for their priorities.

The budget process is kicked off when the governor unveils their budget proposal, which Gov. Kathy Hochul did at the beginning of February. Following that step, the Legislature holds budget hearings to discuss the executive’s proposal until they release and pass their own proposals in both the Senate and the Assembly. Smith said the budget process this year kicked off later than in prior years due to the 2022 election cycle.

Next up for legislative leaders are meetings which are known as “motherships." During the “mothership” meetings, the majority leaders, Assembly speaker and Finance Committee chairs meet to lay out their budget priorities. Meanwhile, legislative and executive office staffers are meeting to discuss the differences between the three proposals.

Smith, a state legislative veteran, told Capital Tonight that she is “surprised” there is a lot of policy in the budget. Including policy in the budget was typically reserved for controversial policy items, according to Smith. However, Smith is not surprised that the Legislature included housing items and left out bail reforms.

The budget is due at midnight on April 1 but the state government doesn’t shut down if a budget is not passed. Legislators and the governor typically meet to decide on a temporary “continuing resolution” to keep the lights on. While budgets have been on time or “timely” in recent years, that wasn’t always the case. Prior to Gov. Andrew Cuomo making on-time budgets a priority, there could be months without an approved state budget.

Despite the late nights and stress, Smith says she has “FOMO” for fear of missing out during this budget cycle.