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

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

Lawmakers would like to add another $4 billion in additional spending to Hochul’s record $216 billion plan, but details on the final proposal remained elusive as sources speculated negotiations could extend beyond Friday.

“That’s extraordinarily bad, even by Albany standards,” said John Kaehny, executive director of surveillance group Reinvent Albany. “This is a governor who said she would change the culture in Albany, but she made it worse, not better.”

After exceeding last Friday’s budget deadline, Hochul and the Democrat-controlled state legislature passed a last-minute “extension” of the budget Monday to fund wage commitments through midnight Thursday.

But Sen. Michael Gianaris, the powerful Democratic Majority Deputy Leader, told reporters Tuesday that lawmakers actually have until Monday before payrolls are paused.

The delay comes as lawmakers hammered out details of controversial criminal justice policies, as well as “a variety of non-budget issues thrown into the mix.”

“Each of them is complex and controversial, and people have passionate feelings for them, and they take days to sort through and pick apart,” Gianaris said.

Lawmakers in the Senate and state assembly were scheduled to meet privately Wednesday night to discuss outstanding issues.

NYS Governor Kathy Hochul in Brooklyn.
Watchdog manager John Kaehny mocked Gov. Kathy Hochul for worsening Albany.
Paul Martinka

One measure still on the table is the controversial expansion of the Kendra Act, allowing court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) and community monitoring in cases of serious mental illness. The amended provision could include incarceration of people with mental illness following a judge’s decision.

Lawmakers are also close to reaching agreement on rolling back the state’s controversial bail reform laws and are considering changes such as allowing more hate and gun crimes to be committed on bail.

They are considering a measure that would allow judges to consider an individual’s criminal record to determine whether they could harm an individual or group of individuals.

Deputy Majority Leader to New York State Senator Michael Gianaris
Deputy Majority Leader of the State Senator Michael Gianaris claims lawmakers are slowly reviewing “complex and controversial” issues in the state budget.
Hans Penink

For the Buffalo Bills’ new stadium, Hochul’s $1.4 billion project will receive $600 million in funding from taxpayers and residents of Erie County, where it is being built, with an additional $250 million. The teams’ billionaire owners – Florida residents Terry and Kim Pegula – will carry the $550 million price tag.

The Democrats are also hatching a plan to bring casino gambling to New York City.

The plan would require the state gaming facility location board to submit applications to open three new casinos — with two or possibly all three located in the five counties.

“They have the minimum cost of the royalty, which will be at least $500 million to $750 million each,” said state Senate Race, Gaming and Betting Committee Chairman Joe Addabbo (D-Queens).

NYS Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy
GOP Party leader Nick Langworthy has blasted Gov. Kathy Hochul for her “useless and weak” leadership.
William Farington

“Tax rates are being discussed. We set the parameters but let the Gambling Commission determine the license fees and the bidding and determine the site process.”

The final plan is expected to exclude provisions advocated by Mayor Eric Adams, such as expanding mayoral control over New York City public schools and a revised version of the expiring tax credit for real estate development ‘421-a’.

Adams also dined with the disgraced ex-gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday as Hochul struggled to secure a budget deal with fellow Democrats.

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

“Hochul doesn’t get a budget deal and the legislature is rough on her, but the fact that the mayor is more interested in speaking to the former governor than the current one tells you everything you need to know about how useless it is and weak is this governor and the administration.”

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

“Honestly, it’s a missed opportunity because we’ve never had the opportunity to make significant savings. Instead of protecting ourselves from risk, we create more risk and are more likely to open budget gaps,” he said.

“Future impact is even greater than in the past because we increased taxes last year. The question is how much are you throwing the financial plan off balance? In 2026 the budget will just about be balanced, gaps in the budget will be opened and either cuts will be made in three years or taxes will be increased.”

Actions still under consideration include:

  • An extension of the pandemic-era alcohol-to-go law
  • Relief for high prices at the pump
  • A plan to overhaul the state’s embattled ethics body, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics
  • More spending on home caregivers, childcare, ailing hospitals, SUNY and CUNY students, and possibly a federally funded deal to insure undocumented New Yorkers
  • Increased funding to combat discrimination against Asian Americans New York lawmakers fail in ‘top secret’ budget deal: critics


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