Three days late and counting, still no budget deal

The state legislature is likely going to keep working past the end of session Thursday night.
Photo courtesy of Darren McGee – Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Three days after the state budget’s April 1 deadline, Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Monday she expects negotiations to wrap up in the next few days, while passing what’s known as an “extender” to temporarily fund the government in the meantime.

“Ultimately, it’ll be resolved in just a matter of days. We’re getting close,” Hochul told reporters. “We filed an extender, as of today, to make sure that we can continue paying our New York workers which is important. But also this gives us a little more time just to wrap up the final touches on what is going to be a transformative budget for all New Yorkers. So that should be resolved in the next few days.”

The main issue holding up the budget is whether or not to make changes to a number of criminal justice reforms that passed over the last few years – including bail, discovery and “Raise the Age” reforms – amid the worst crime wave New York City has seen in decades. Hochul, who released a 10-point-plan last month to make certain tweaks to these criminal justice reforms, said she never blamed the rise in crime solely on bail reform but has to do something to address it.

“As we’ve seen, there was strong interest from New Yorkers to have us address the issue of escalating crime,” Hochul said. “We never said it was bail reform’s fault, we never said that, very clear. But there’s areas that we can make improvements. I want to continue addressing gun violence. You know, how many more 12 year olds have to be killed before we take strong efforts to get guns off the streets? So we put together a comprehensive package that’s going to address a myriad of issues related to crime in this state.”

Longtime Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D – Brooklyn) told PoliticsNY that the conversations around changes to criminal justice reforms are mainly focussed on tweaks to discovery laws passed in 2019. Abbate said both the governor and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie have been in touch with district attorneys in New York City and around the state to try and reach an agreement on discovery laws.

Additionally, Abbate said, the fate of 485-w – Hochul’s replacement for the 421-a affordable housing subsidy – is still being debated as well. Last week Abbate told PoliticsNy that a one-year extender for the affordable housing tax abatement, which is set to expire in June, is still on the table.

On Monday morning Mayor Eric Adams said he supports a one-year extension of 421-a.

“I’m a supporter of the modifications that are needed,” Adams said. “I think we should be able to come to a closure on it. We need housing. We need to continue to have more housing. And I think that if we make the modifications, that they can come to a deal, and so I’m hoping they are able to do so.”

The budget has also been held up over a controversial deal to fund a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills with $850 million in taxpayer money, which Hochul introduced early last week – just days before the budget was due. Hochul said she doesn’t think the stadium will be a problem in the budget and defended the need to fund a new home for the upstate professional football team.

“This is an important retail asset,” Hochul said. “It’s a regionally important priority for western New York. Just as there’s regional priorities for other parts of the state that we’re going to be addressing in this budget.”