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New York lawmakers push budget deadline again as they negotiate over spending

The New York State Capitol.
New York Now
The New York State Capitol.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York lawmakers gave themselves more time to negotiate over the state budget by voting Thursday to temporarily extend the deadline for the final spending plan, ensuring the National Guard gets paid and state operations run smoothly.

Legislators had already passed an extension when they missed the initial April 1 deadline, but they say progress is being made on top items such as funding for schools.

"There's a lot of agreement on issues on where we need to take the state," Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, told reporters Thursday.

Last year, lawmakers blew past the budget deadline by almost a month, largely because of disagreements over changes to the state's bail law and an ambitious plan to create new housing.

This year, however, they appear cautious to avoid a similar blowup.

Thursday's extension bumps the due date for a final spending plan to April 8, but lawmakers will be back on Sunday and Monday to push the deadline yet again to ensure state workers continue getting paid, spokespeople for both the state Senate and Assembly said.

"We're trying to move mountains quite honestly to take care of, you know, people who depend on our system," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, said Wednesday.

Lawmakers need to hash out a final agreement on how the state hands out education funding to schools. Hochul proposed a plan that quickly drew criticism because it would result in some districts getting less money.

"We talked about putting a process in place so by this time next year, giving everybody the notice, the warning that they all asked for, that there will be a different formula. I'm just deciding with the leaders how that mechanism will work, but I think it's going to put us all in a much better place," Hochul said.

This budget extension throws school districts further into an area of uncertainty because they face a looming deadline for submitting their own spending plans to the public, state Assemblymember Edward Ra, a Republican, said during floor deliberations ahead of a vote on the extension.

Budget talks between the governor and leaders of the Democrat-run state Assembly and Senate often happen behind closed doors.

"Public employees, school districts and municipalities all need to know what the state's final financial plan will include, but those details are nowhere to be found," Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, a Republican, said in a statement.

Stewart-Cousins has said she is working "as quickly as possible" to ensure school districts understand how much money the state will allocate towards them.

Legislative leaders are trying to settle on a housing deal that includes new construction, tenant protections, and a tax break for developers to encourage building. As part of her executive budget proposal, Hochul wants to upgrade state properties that can be repurposed to create up to 15,000 units of housing.

Regarding the housing deal, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, said: "We might be in the same neighborhood, I don't know if we're on the same block yet."

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