The Democratic majorities of the State Senate and Assembly worked throughout...

The Democratic majorities of the State Senate and Assembly worked throughout Wednesday behind closed doors to complete agreement on details of the 2024-25 state budget. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY — The State Legislature could start voting on bills Thursday to begin passing the state budget, already nearly three weeks overdue and drawing increasing criticism of the protracted process.

The Democratic majorities of the Senate and Assembly worked throughout Wednesday behind closed doors to complete agreement on details of the more than $235 billion spending plan for 2024-25. Once the voluminous bills are crafted, Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to issue a “message of necessity” to suspend the three days’ public review required by the state constitution to pass the budget, which was due April 1.

Debating and passing the package of bills could take the process into the weekend, rank-and-file legislators said Wednesday.

“Is this a good way to do public policy? Is it a good way to do a budget? Clearly not,” said Assemb. Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), the minority leader. He said his minority conference hadn’t seen any of the budget agreements negotiated by Hochul and the Democratic leaders of the Assembly and Senate. Legislators in both parties are expected to have just hours to review the nearly foot-thick package of bills before voting on the budget.

On Monday, Hochul announced “parameters of a conceptual agreement” that included broad description of elements of the budget, including a package to increase housing affordability statewide and to provide record school aid. She applauded the budget as “quite an accomplishment” and the work of long days and weekends and often contentious negotiations.

Hochul said a good budget that addresses the many needs of New Yorkers is more important than an on-time budget.

But her Monday announcement surprised legislators, who said they were still negotiating with Hochul.

“The pencils weren't fully down,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said.

Hochul’s announcement didn’t include details of spending and policy in the plan for which she said she had a handshake agreement with legislative leaders. Hochul and the Legislature have passed budget “extenders” that keep state government operating under the last budget.

“Five extenders past the budget deadline, the governor has announced ‘the parameters of a conceptual agreement’ without the fiscal details on the plans to spend ... the public’s money,” said Andrew Rein, president of the independent Citizens Budget Commission. “New Yorkers deserve a clear view of the full budget picture and what it means for the future. At their heart, budgets are tables of numbers and not bullet points and narratives.”

John Kaehny of the good-government group Reinvent Albany, notes overdue budgets and the closed-door process is a perennial problem in Albany. He said the lack of transparency in the budget followed by a rush to pass it doesn’t give legislators or their constituents enough time to judge the merits of the plan.

“Even on a good day, governing a healthy, transparent, democracy is messy, but at least the concerns of the broader public matter,” Kaehny said.

Progress was briefly threatened Wednesday when a computer used for drafting bills was reportedly hacked. But Senate majority spokesman Michael Murphy said the incident shouldn’t create a significant delay.

ALBANY — The State Legislature could start voting on bills Thursday to begin passing the state budget, already nearly three weeks overdue and drawing increasing criticism of the protracted process.

The Democratic majorities of the Senate and Assembly worked throughout Wednesday behind closed doors to complete agreement on details of the more than $235 billion spending plan for 2024-25. Once the voluminous bills are crafted, Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to issue a “message of necessity” to suspend the three days’ public review required by the state constitution to pass the budget, which was due April 1.

Debating and passing the package of bills could take the process into the weekend, rank-and-file legislators said Wednesday.

“Is this a good way to do public policy? Is it a good way to do a budget? Clearly not,” said Assemb. Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), the minority leader. He said his minority conference hadn’t seen any of the budget agreements negotiated by Hochul and the Democratic leaders of the Assembly and Senate. Legislators in both parties are expected to have just hours to review the nearly foot-thick package of bills before voting on the budget.

On Monday, Hochul announced “parameters of a conceptual agreement” that included broad description of elements of the budget, including a package to increase housing affordability statewide and to provide record school aid. She applauded the budget as “quite an accomplishment” and the work of long days and weekends and often contentious negotiations.

Hochul said a good budget that addresses the many needs of New Yorkers is more important than an on-time budget.

But her Monday announcement surprised legislators, who said they were still negotiating with Hochul.

“The pencils weren't fully down,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said.

Hochul’s announcement didn’t include details of spending and policy in the plan for which she said she had a handshake agreement with legislative leaders. Hochul and the Legislature have passed budget “extenders” that keep state government operating under the last budget.

“Five extenders past the budget deadline, the governor has announced ‘the parameters of a conceptual agreement’ without the fiscal details on the plans to spend ... the public’s money,” said Andrew Rein, president of the independent Citizens Budget Commission. “New Yorkers deserve a clear view of the full budget picture and what it means for the future. At their heart, budgets are tables of numbers and not bullet points and narratives.”

John Kaehny of the good-government group Reinvent Albany, notes overdue budgets and the closed-door process is a perennial problem in Albany. He said the lack of transparency in the budget followed by a rush to pass it doesn’t give legislators or their constituents enough time to judge the merits of the plan.

“Even on a good day, governing a healthy, transparent, democracy is messy, but at least the concerns of the broader public matter,” Kaehny said.

Progress was briefly threatened Wednesday when a computer used for drafting bills was reportedly hacked. But Senate majority spokesman Michael Murphy said the incident shouldn’t create a significant delay.

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