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Late New York state budget delayed further by a cyberattack

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

The New York state budget, which is already over two weeks late, is likely to be even later after the Legislature’s bill drafting office was the victim of a cyberattack.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers said the attack occurred around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday in the offices where bills are written and digitally printed.

Hochul, speaking on public radio station WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” said her top cybersecurity team is on it.

“This happened very, very early in the morning,” Hochul said. “I have one of the top cybersecurity teams in the entire country. I knew that was a priority. So no one will do it better than we do in trying to get to the bottom of this attack.”

The governor says the bill drafting staff are resorting to computers dating from 30 years ago to write the bills the old-fashioned way.

“We have to go back to the more antiquated system we had in place from 1994,” she said.

Hochul said she doesn’t know at this point if the cyberattack was politically motivated, or who could have initiated it.

Mike Murphy, a spokesperson for the Senate majority, said the staff is using the older technology to work on the budget bills, and he does not “believe this will delay the overall process.”

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt and members of the Senate GOP conference speak to the media on April 17, 2024
Karen DeWitt
New York Public News Network
Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt and members of the Senate GOP conference speak to the media on April 17, 2024.

Republicans, who are in the minority in the Legislature, decried the lack of information about the cyberattack and the lack of transparency about a tentative budget accord that Hochul announced on Monday night.

“Here we are in Planet Albany under a cyberattack in bill drafting with a budget that's 17 days late,” said Sen. Tom O’Mara, the ranking member on the Senate Finance committee.

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt said because of the delays caused by the cyberattack, he was told that the GOP might receive draft pieces of legislation to review instead of the actual bills. He said that would be unacceptable.

Ortt said Republicans, like the rest of the public, are not getting details about what went wrong with the bill drafting’s cybersecurity systems.

“I have not had a direct briefing,” Ortt said, “as far as what happened, what's the risk, what was the result of the attack, and again, where are we on the bill drafting piece specifically?”

Legislators said despite all the delays, they still hope to get bills printed and voted into law by the weekend. After that, they are scheduled for a two-week vacation.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.