ALBANY — The Senate on Sunday approved a $163 billion state budget that was nine days late, the third straight late budget.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the legislature struck the deal in closed-door negotiations that ended Friday and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan emphasized several wins in the budget even before it passed Sunday.
“The Senate led the way on controlling state spending, protecting the taxpayer, and making critical investments in measures that will protect public health and grow our economy,” said Flanagan (R-East Northport) in a statement.
The budget approved Saturday by the state Assembly includes a $1.1 billion increase in school aid that boosts funding by more than 6 percent, a juvenile justice measure that will divert more 16- and 17-year-olds accused of nonviolent crimes from adult criminal courts, and authorizes ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft on Long Island and upstate.
Flanagan said one of the Senate Republican majority’s biggest wins is the $2.5 billion water infrastructure project that will help pay for about half of Long Islanders’ bills to convert to municipal systems from septic systems that threaten drinking water and the Long Island Sound.
Cuomo’s “college affordability” proposal will mean families with income of under $125,000 will get the balance of public college tuition paid after student aid and private college students will get more Tuition Assistance Plan money. However, the budget also increases tuition at the State University of New York, now $6,470 annually, by $200 a year for four years. The Legislature cut that from Cuomo’s $250 annual proposal for five years.
“Higher education has been a priority of this conference,” said Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).
Senate Democrats blasted the massive budget deal known as the “big ugly.” The deal linked disparate policies including juvenile justice and tax breaks and dropped other proposals including one to treat e-cigarettes and vaping like tobacco smoking indoors into one vote. Separately, the contentious issues might not have passed.
“We lump together the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) of the massive bill of disparate policies that was derisively called “the big ugly.”
“It forces you to vote for everything, or nothing,” said Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn).
The 2017-18 budget that was due April 1 is the third straight state budget that is late and the latest of the three. The previous two were approved by the legislature a day late, thanks to use of the emergency “messages of necessity” ordered by Cuomo and accepted by the legislature. They suspended the three days of public review required by the constitution for any bill before a vote.
The budget being passed Sunday also required “messages of necessity,” leaving many legislators to complain that they lacked enough time to review the bills and for good-government groups to criticize the closed-door negotiations and the passing of bills after midnight.
“One out of seven,” Cuomo said Friday. “I don’t think there are any governors in modern history who had more on-time budgets.”
Saturday’s passage in a marathon, nearly 24-hour session of the Assembly at times revealed the rancor in the talks that has delayed legislators from their Passover-Easter vacation and delayed their pay checks until a budget is passed. On Saturday afternoon, legislators said they were told by their leaders that they were to stop criticizing the governor in their debate speeches.