NY lawmakers lurch toward a state budget

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NY state avoided a government shutdown Monday when reluctant lawmakers passed an emergency two-month spending measure proposed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he and the Legislature failed to strike a deal on a spending plan.

At least a half-dozen state lawmakers from Long Island told News 12 Tuesday that a budget agreement was in place, four days after the budget deadline.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said Tuesday that Cuomo and lawmakers had reached a "substantial agreement" on some of the outstanding issues holding up a budget deal, including juvenile-justice reform measures.

Raise the age legislation involves increase the age of criminal responsibility to 18, so 16 and 17 year olds will be charged as juvenile offenders and not as adults.

State budget negotiations have collapsed after members of the state Senate left Albany.

New York City schools, for example, need to start planning their budget in May - which might be hard without knowing how much state support they can count on.

"With this compromise, this solution, I spoke to the conference about it and other than some detailed language I'd say were OK with it", Heastie said.

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For weeks, Cuomo has stated his preference for a budget that would allow him to tinker with it throughout the year, controlling disbursements without legislative approval. (D-Howard Beach) said, "The mere existence of a necessary budget extender is evidence of a flawed budget process for our state". Legislators are supposed to go on a two-week Easter recess starting today, but Assembly Democrats are to stay in Albany to continue working out points of contention in the budget. Lawmakers won't get paid until they pass the budget, which was due by Saturday.

We realize getting work done before the last minute is not in the Legislature's nature, but a two month delay is fundamentally unfair - especially from a state that expects school districts and local governments to live under a tax cap.

"On issues such as Raise the Age, there are political and ideological differences between the Senate and Assembly". Thoughtful and responsible public policy has been adopted in 48 other states and it is unconscionable that any New Yorker would want to continue this abhorrent practice.

Assembly leaders say they hope a proper budget will pass sooner rather than later.

At one point, he weighed whether the state should follow the federal model of passing temporary "continuing resolutions" to keep state government funded as Washington weighs cuts.

The language states that $14 million will be allocated in January 2018 and the $55 million will be allocated at the beginning of the fiscal year on April 1, 2018.

"The problem is that the language that was agreed upon at 1 a.m., when people woke up the next morning, the agreement had disintegrated", she said.