NY lawmakers pass emergency extender as bail reform, housing hold up budget negotiations

Hochul’s proposed budget includes a change to the current bail law to give judges greater discretion by removing the “least restrictive means” standard to ensure a defendant returns to court.

Jonathan Gordon

Apr 3, 2023, 9:32 PM

Updated 417 days ago

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Lawmakers in both the state Senate and Assembly unanimously approved a one-week budget extender, ensuring roughly 55,000 state employees will get paid after failing to reach a budget deal with the governor by April 1.
All sides will try and get back to negotiating despite the next week including Passover, Good Friday and Easter.
"New Yorkers are concerned about public safety, the rising cost of housing, and ensuring high-quality schools for all our kids, and any budget deal must make progress on these core issues. I have been negotiating in good faith with the legislature, but it is clear there is more work to be done before we reach an agreement. For that reason, I am submitting a bill to the legislature that would extend the budget deadline to April 10th, giving us the time we need to deliver a final budget that is responsive to the urgent needs of New Yorkers. We must make real progress to make New York more affordable, more livable, and safer," wrote Gov. Kathy Hochul in a statement Monday.
Lawmakers on both sides expressed frustration over their failure to complete the budget by the original deadline.
"We need to roll up our sleeves and get a compromise done," said state Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, a Democrat who represents the 96th District.
"We expected the budget to be on time. It's the second year in a row that it's not on time so you know, no one can look at this as a success," said first-term Republican state Sen. Bill Weber.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said she was disappointed.
"We will be passing a short-term extender to ensure our public employees continue to be paid and state operations can carry on as usual while budget negotiations proceed. We look forward to concluding our budget process and having a budget that represents the values of all New Yorkers," wrote Stewart-Cousins in a statement Monday.
Two big ticket items are holding up the negotiations with "90% of the time being devoted to bail reform," according to Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
Housing remains the other major point of contention.
"It remains to be seen how long this is going to be," said Democratic first-term Assemblywoman MaryJane Shimsky.
The Democratic party is at odds from within over the future of bail reform.
Hochul wants to modify the current bail reform law by making it easier for judges to set a cash bail on serious criminal charges. Many Democrats have outright rejected the governor's proposal while Republicans say it doesn't go far enough but are willing to accept some loosening of the status quo.
"We're hopeful that the governor will hold her ground because we're ready to stand with her on making those changes that will make our neighborhoods safer again," said Weber.
The governor's statewide housing compact appears to have serious bipartisan opposition.
Her plan would create 800,000 new homes over the next decade by setting a mandatory minimum percentage of new housing units each community would have to build - otherwise, the state could step in and force development. The plan focuses on creating homes near public transportation and puts a higher burden on suburban communities served by the MTA.
Progressive Democrats have called on the governor to take it a step further and pass the Good Cause Eviction law, as well as other measures strengthening protections for tenants. Republicans have balked at the idea of allowing the state to override local control.
"That's a big issue and we want to ensure that we keep our home rule," said Weber.
Several other issues are still getting attention including minimum wage, raising taxes, and funding for the MTA.
"Everyone is working as hard as they can within the roles they are assigned in what is a very complex project," said Shimsky.
Last year's budget was also late under Hochul and wasn't approved until April 9, 2022.
Hochul and lawmakers would need to approve a second extender if a full budget agreement isn't in place by next Monday.
It's a path many lawmakers said is likely to happen.


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