Budget Talks Blow Up: Cuomo Sees Yearlong Debate, Senate Leaves
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Talks over completing the 2017-18 state budget blew up on Wednesday as Senate Republicans, frustrated with a lack of progress on key deals, signaled they’re leaving the Capitol until an agreement is reached.
“This is not something on a lark, we’re not going to be driving back on the Thruway and people are staying away until we know there’s an agreement,” said Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo meanwhile blamed three key issues: A dispute over post-release supervision as part of raising the age of criminal responsibility, funding for charter schools and a real-estate tax abatement.
Lawmakers say more time is needed, five days after the budget was due.
“It’s a deliberative process even though people may not think that,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re here over the weekend.”
But Cuomo also suggested this budget discussion may not end any time soon.
“Look,” Cuomo said at a news conference in the Red Room of the Capitol. “I think this going to continue all throughout the year.”
A temporary stop gap measure approved this week funding state government through the end of May could become the norm, Cuomo said.
“Financially I like the continuing resolution model,” he said “It’s what Washington has done for many, many years and it works very, very well.”
An overarching concern for Cuomo is uncertainty from looming federal budget cuts.
But he also hinted at a desire to have more control over the budget after its approved, implementing those cuts without the Legislature’s approval.
“I am going to do a budget,” he said. “In the budget I get, I want financial flexibility and I want to make sure it is a cautious budget so we don’t overextend ourselves.”
The power Cuomo has sought was rejected by the Legislature. But under budget extenders, lawmakers have their pay temporarily withheld. Assembly Democrats say they plan to continue to push for a spending plan.
“We want to get a budget done,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie while flanked by a group of his Democratic conference members. “We want to give people certainty on what’s going to happen in this fiscal year.”
The Assembly plans to meet again on Thursday, but without the Senate in Albany, an early resolution seems unlikely.