ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature on Monday agreed to extend funding of state government under the past state budget while they continue to work on details of the 2022-23 state budget that was due Friday.
“It will be resolved in just a matter of days,” Hochul said. “We filed an extender to make sure we can continue to pay our New York workers, which is important. It also gives us more time for the finishing touches of what will be a transformative budget for all New Yorkers. So that should be resolved in the next few days.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie earlier on Monday said Hochul had added new nonfiscal policy issues to the budget negotiations in recent days that bogged down talks.
Among them was a tweak to the alcohol-to-go bill for restaurants about what constitutes a meal — an entree or an appetizer — to allow the takeout order with alcohol. Another late issue was reintroducing a housing issue known as 421a that provides a tax abatement for residential developers, which legislative leaders said had been postponed to after the budget.
The budget extender “will give us a few more days to finish this up,” Heastie said. “There are discussions over policy … if there are lots of discussions over policy, it’s going to be late.”
Gov. Hochul confirmed Monday that nearly all of her aides negotiating the state budget save for one person tested positive for COVID, complicating negotiations. She said they are now "coming back on line."
The Senate passed the budget extender 62-0. The Assembly, also led by Democrats, passed the extender, 146-0, later Monday.
Key among those policy measures is changing the 2019 bail law adopted by the State Legislature, led by its progressive members. The law was passed before Hochul took office in August after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment accusations.
Neither Hochul nor Heastie would detail where the proposal is at this time, saying it needed to be approved first by the rank-and-file in the Assembly and Senate. But both said there would be changes to the law adopted in 2019 that seeks to end a practice in which suspects who are able to afford bail can be freed for the same crime that would send a suspect unable to pay bail into jail for weeks or months while they awaited a trial.
Republicans, some Democrats and law enforcement officials have said the bail law has set free dangerous suspects.
“There is strong interest from New Yorkers to address the issue of rising crime,” Hochul said. “There are areas we can make improvements and continue to address gun violence … we put together a package that will address a myriad of issues on crime in this state.”
Two legislative sources said the most recent sticking point in the discussions was over the process of discovery. The bail law has required prosecutors to turn over all evidence faster to defense attorneys and public defenders.
But the most recent closed-door debates sought to exempt “nonmaterial” evidence that didn’t significantly impact the case.
Heastie said he believes the leaders “are in a good place on discovery,” but that measure, like most in what will be more than a $216 billion budget, hinge on other agreements. Heastie said he must first listen to all 104 members of his conference on elements of the budget before signing off on a deal, “so it takes time.”
Heastie and Hochul agreed the major issues still on the table include suspension of the state gasoline tax, which sources said will likely eliminate about 40 cents a gallon, until Jan. 1.
There also will be more money for child care and expansion of pre-Kindergarten statewide in the budget, according to the two legislative sources. The final numbers hadn’t been determined on Monday.
Late budgets are common in Albany. Under former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the budgets were frequently late by a few days. He had come to refer to a budget done within a week of the deadline as a “timely budget.” This year, Hochul adopted the same language and on Monday noted that recent budgets haven’t been adopted until April 7 and April 9 under Cuomo.,