Gov. Hochul, lawmakers to miss NY budget deadline again

The New York state budget will be late this year — again.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and lawmakers have until Monday to put an at least $233 billion budget into place before the start of the state’s fiscal year. But with a deal out of reach and a variety of religious observances looming, the governor and Legislature approved a temporary spending bill that will last through April 4.

The move ensures the state’s payroll goes out as scheduled next week, and it buys the governor, Senate and Assembly another week to try to reach consensus on thorny issues like housing policy and funding for the state’s education and Medicaid systems.

Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, said on the Senate floor on Thursday that the late budget should not be “critically disturbing to anyone in New York state.”

“We are assuring the people of New York [that] government will continue as planned, on schedule, and that this slight delay should have no impact on anyone’s lives,” said Krueger, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. “I am optimistic we will get to a complete budget within some reasonable period of time when we return after Easter.”

Late budgets have long been an annual rite of passage in Albany, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration prioritized on-time — or at least almost on-time — budgets as a symbol of a functioning government after years of chronic delays.

All three budgets under Hochul, who took office after Cuomo resigned in August 2021, have been late.

Hochul’s budget proposal in January included a broad housing package that called for re-upping a version of an expired tax break for New York City housing developers, among other things. But Democratic lawmakers have made clear they won’t consider that without including new anti-eviction protections for tenants in existing housing.

Also complicating budget talks are ongoing negotiations between the Real Estate Board of New York — the industry’s main lobbying arm — and a variety of labor unions representing building trades, which Hochul has tasked with hashing out a wage agreement for workers on projects covered by the proposed tax break.

Members of some of the trades, including the NYC District Council of Carpenters, traveled to the Capitol on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers after rejecting a proposal from REBNY last week. But Kevin Elkins, the carpenters’ political director, said there haven’t been any breakthroughs in negotiations with REBNY.

“We’re still unfortunately at an impasse,” Elkins said Thursday.

Hochul sent the temporary budget extension bill to lawmakers late Wednesday, saying that a “final agreement is within reach” but citing the Easter holiday as the impetus for the extension.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, told reporters on Tuesday that he was cautiously optimistic about the state of budget talks, particularly in regards to housing. But he said there was still plenty of negotiation to be done.

“Sometimes in the budget, you might be in a different galaxy,” Heastie said of his negotiating partners. “I think we’re all now even on the same planet.”

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