Cuomo asks for extension to keep NYS operating
With New York State budget negotiations at an impasse, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked legislative leaders to extend last year's budget through the end of May while Democrats and Republicans continue working to settle their differences.
The "extender" would allow the state government to keep operating, but scheduled spending increases for everything from schools to roadways to Medicaid would not take effect until lawmakers approve the budget for fiscal 2018, which began on Saturday.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie issued a statement near midnight Sunday, saying, "The Assembly is prepared to pass a temporary budget extender should one be necessary to avoid a shutdown of government while we resolve these issues."
Cuomo has staked much of his reputation on fixing dysfunction in Albany by delivering budgets on-time, instead of months later, a frequent occurrence in years past.
In a statement shortly before midnight, he blamed the "ultraconservative Congress," but not the Trump Administration, for financial uncertainty. He also said affordable housing spending, tax breaks for developers and raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 remain as sticking points.
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle of Rochester said getting a budget soon is important, but getting the right agreement is even more crucial.
“We're working hard," he said. "Obviously, we've been here through the weekend. We'll continue to work as long as it takes to get this done.”
When the deadline passed at midnight Friday, Cuomo gave the legislature two days to reach an agreement. When it didn't happen by late Sunday evening, Cuomo said lawmakers should pass an "extender" to keep the government functioning as it has been under the previous budget, but without adjustments for the new fiscal year.
Democratic State Senator Tim Kennedy of Buffalo issued a statement on the lack of an on-time budget:
"New Yorkers deserve an apology. The state legislature often earns a reputation of being dysfunctional and the past few days only emphasize that truth. While my conference has continued to champion real issues like Raise the Age and ethics reforms despite being locked out of negotiations, the Senate majority has yet to release full budget language to review.
"And so we wait. We wait for an already late budget, that will likely be sprung on minority conference legislators to review hastily and without time to make informed, educated decisions about a final vote that impacts millions. The lack of transparency in this process truly shows its flaws."