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NY lawmakers, governor reach deal on late budget

New York State Capitol in Albany

New York will boost spending by billions over the next year in a bid to revitalize the state's hard-hit economy under a budget deal announced Tuesday by lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo has long prided himself on getting the budget passed on time and trying to keep spending increases minimal. Lawmakers passed a budget on time last spring amid the pandemic, when the Assembly and Senate didn't offer their own spending proposals.

But this year's budget delay means thousands of state workers are now facing the prospect of having to wait at least a day longer to receive paychecks: at least 39,000 state employees are expecting a paycheck Thursday.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said that employees may get their paper checks late because lawmakers didn't pass the budget by Monday. And direct deposits would arrive late if lawmakers didn't pass the budget Tuesday.

Lawmakers hoped to pass the budget by Tuesday midnight. But New York's Senate and Assembly planned to pass legislation Tuesday evening to extend the budget by two days in case either chamber missed that deadline.

The Legislature and governor have released few specifics to the public about some of the most contentious parts of the budget: from an expected tax hike on millionaires, to the specifics of an agreement to legalize mobile sports betting, to eligibility requirements for a $2.1 billion fund for undocumented immigrants and other workers who have been excluded from COVID-19 assistance.

Mike Murphy, spokesperson for Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said the language of the revenue bill should be released online by Tuesday evening, with votes expected later Tuesday.

"Working and middle-class taxpayers will receive the relief they desperately need, while the wealthiest New Yorkers will help their neighbors," Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.

Lawmakers typically have to wait three days to pass legislation once it's introduced. But the governor can give lawmakers special permission to vote on the bill earlier.

This year's $212 billion budget is a 9.9% increase over last year's $194.6 billion budget.

That increase is due in part to extra federal COVID-19 relief that New York won't get again next year: including an expected $12 billion for state government alone.

Freeman Klopott, Cuomo budget office spokesperson, said state spending alone will increase 3.8% under the budget if that extra federal funding is excluded.

New York tax revenues are rebounding faster than expected, Congress has sent billions to New York over the past year and Cuomo has reduced state spending by at least $1.7 billion since last spring. That's all helped New York balance its budget.

But Cuomo and Democrats want to give a jump-start to an economy still hit by job losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. Employment in New York is still more than 1 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels, with fewer than half of lost jobs recovered so far, according to DiNapoli.

Cuomo and legislative leaders said the budget would include a "record" $29.5 billion in school aid, a $3 billion increase from last year. And they said the budget provides funding for "green economy investments," rent relief, child care, small business recovery and broadband internet access.

"Thanks to the State's strong fiscal management and relentless pursuit to secure the federal support that the pandemic demanded, we not only balanced our budget, we are also making historic investments to reimagine, rebuild and renew New York in the aftermath of the worst health and economic crisis in a century," Cuomo said in a statement.