Lawmakers up against budget deadline

ALBANY (AP) — It’s deadline time for New York state leaders trying to wrap up negotiations on a new state budget.

Today is the first day of a new state fiscal year but as of Friday afternoon lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo were still working on the details, making it unlikely any votes on budget bills could start before the key deadline.

Cuomo had a string of on-time budgets early in his tenure as governor and often said the late budgets of the past were a symptom of political dysfunction. This year’s budget is likely to be late only by a matter of hours or a few days.

Top issues this year include greater tuition assistance for students, allowing Uber and Lyft to expand upstate and juvenile justice reforms.

Cuomo introduced his $152 billion budget proposal in January. It keeps the status quo when it comes to taxes, adds $1 billion in new public education spending, includes expanded childcare tax credits and a new initiative making state college tuition free for students from families making $125,000 or less.

Here’s where top issues stand Friday:

Raise the age

New York is one of only two states to automatically prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds in adult criminal courts, a system youth advocates say eschews rehabilitation and sets children up to be lifelong criminals.

Cuomo and legislative leaders have agreed most of the age group should be moved out of the adult system. Top leaders have floated the idea of sending felony offenders to “youth courts,” where lawyers could recommend whether the case should be tried in family or criminal courts.

Republicans and Democrats are stalled in arguments about which crimes would qualify for these courts and how much say the district attorneys and judges would have.

Ride hailing

App-based ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have pushed for years for state regulations allowing them to move into cities such as Rochester, Buffalo, Albany and Syracuse but remain limited to the New York City area. The Senate and Cuomo, a Democrat, support the companies’ expansion, but a proposal in the Assembly would subject ride-hailing to local regulation, too.

One possible compromise would allow large cities to voluntarily prohibit ride-hailing.


New York has some of the oldest and leakiest pipes in the nation, and contamination from old industrial sites continues to threaten water quality.

In response, the Senate proposed $8 billion for water quality protection and upgrades to drinking water and sewer systems around the state. The Assembly and Cuomo have suggested $2 billion. Deals floating around the Capitol on Thursday would put the agreed-upon number closer to the Assembly-Cuomo figure.

“Close, but nothing final,” said Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx on Thursday when asked about water funding.


Both chambers also want to increase investments in public schools. The Assembly proposes $26.5 billion in overall school funding, a $1.8 billion increase, compared with a $1.2 billion increase in the Senate version. Both houses would maintain the state’s formula that determines how much money schools receive, but would not fulfill those calculated amounts in their entirety.

“I’m for full funding,” said Glenville Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco. “I think it’s that important. But there’s only so much money and only so much agreement we can get.”

Tedisco said the Senate and Assembly also are squabbling over the amount of that funding that would go to tuition payments for privately run charter schools.

By Jason Subik

Leave a Reply