New York lawmakers fail to reach ‘top secret’ budget deal: critics

ALBANY — Governor Hochul and state lawmakers failed to reach a budget deal on New York’s overdue 2023 budget plan on Wednesday, with critics calling the “top secret” negotiation process “appalling.” and “undemocratic”.

Lawmakers are seeking to add another $4 billion in extra spending to Hochul’s record $216 billion plan, but details of the final proposal have remained elusive as sources speculate negotiations could drag on beyond Friday.

“It’s extremely bad, even by Albany standards,” said John Kaehny, executive director of watchdog group Reinvent Albany. “She was a governor who said she was going to change the culture of Albany, but she made it worse, not better.”

After missing last Friday’s budget deadline, Hochul and the Democratic-controlled state legislature passed a last-minute budget “extender” on Monday to fund payroll obligations through midnight Thursday.

But State Sen. Michael Gianaris, the powerful deputy Democratic majority leader, told reporters on Tuesday that lawmakers actually had until Monday before the payroll was halted.

The delay is due to lawmakers fleshing out the details of the controversial criminal justice policy as well as “a host of non-budget issues that have been thrown into the mix.”

“Each of them is complex and controversial, and people have passionate feelings about them and sorting them out and separating them takes days for each one,” Gianaris said.

State Senate and Assembly lawmakers were set to meet privately to discuss outstanding issues Wednesday night.

Watchdog executive John Kaehny mocked Governor Kathy Hochul for aggravating Albany.
Paul Martinca

One measure still on the table is the controversial expansion of Kendra’s Law, which allows assisted outpatient treatment, or AOT, and community supervision for serious mental illness. The amended provision could include the involuntary confinement of people with mental illness following a judge’s decision.

Lawmakers are also close to an agreement on overturning controversial state bail reform laws, considering changes such as making bail more eligible for hate and gun crimes.

They are deliberating on a measure that would allow judges to consider an individual’s criminal history to determine whether they could cause harm to a person or a group of people.

Michael Gianaris, New York State Senator, Deputy Majority Leader
State Sen. Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris says lawmakers are slowly considering the “complex and contentious” issues of the state budget.
Hans Pennink

For the new Buffalo Bills Stadium, Hochul’s $1.4 billion project will be taxpayer funded covering $600 million and residents of Erie County, where it will be built, will contribute an additional $250 million. The teams’ billionaire owners – Florida residents Terry and Kim Pegula – will pay $550 million of the prize.

Democrats are also developing a plan to bring casino gambling to New York.

The plan would require the state’s gaming facilities location board to issue a request for applications to open three new casinos – with two or possibly all three located in the five boroughs.

“You have the minimum cost of licensing fees which will be a minimum of $500 million to $750 million each,” said state Senate Racing, Gaming and Betting Committee Chairman Joe Addabbo (D- Queens).

NYS Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy
GOP Party Chairman Nick Langworthy blasted Governor Kathy Hochul for her “irresponsible and weak” leadership.
William Farrington

“Tax rates are under discussion. We will set the parameters, but let the gaming commission determine licensing fees and auctions and determine the site selection process.

The final plan is expected to exclude provisions championed by Mayor Eric Adams, such as extending the mayor’s control of New York City public schools, as well as a revamped version of the expiring real estate development tax credit’ 421-a’.

Adams also had dinner with a disgraced ex-governor. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday as Hochul struggled to strike a budget deal with fellow Democrats.

“Welcome to the utter disarray and dysfunction of New York Democrats,” New York Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy said.

“Hochul can’t get a budget deal and the legislature is stomping on it, but the fact that the mayor is more interested in spending time with the former governor than the current one shows you everything you need to know about the incompetence and weakness, this governor and this administration are.

Patrick Orecki, director of New York State studies for the Citizens Budget Commission, called the Democratic spending spree a “missed opportunity” for New York.

“This is frankly a missed opportunity, as we have never had the opportunity to realize significant savings. Rather than protecting ourselves from risk, we create more risk and more likely to open budget gaps,” he said.

“The future impacts are even greater than in the past because we raised taxes last year. The question is, how unbalanced are you in the financial plan? In 2026, the budget is just balanced, so you open budget gaps and either there will be cuts in three years or a tax increase.

Measures still under consideration include:

  • An extension of the pandemic-era ‘drink to go’ law
  • Relief from high prices at the gas pump
  • A plan to revamp the state’s beleaguered ethics agency, the Joint Public Ethics Commission
  • More spending on home care workers, day cares, distressed hospitals, SUNY and CUNY students and potentially a state-funded deal to provide insurance for undocumented New Yorkers
  • Increased funding to address discrimination against Asian Americans

New York Post

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