The New York State Capitol in Albany is seen on...

The New York State Capitol in Albany is seen on June 30, 2022. The State Legislature has passed another extender to fund state operations as negotiations on the 2024-25 state budget continue. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY — A raft of housing initiatives, more tuition aid for college students and tougher enforcement measures against toll evaders and illegal cannabis shops are lining up to be included in a state budget agreement, rank-and-file lawmakers were told Friday, according to sources.

With the state budget nearly two weeks late, a flurry of Friday activity showed Gov. Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders moving toward a deal. Legislators were briefed Friday and told to prepare for another closed-door meeting Sunday, with voting possibly starting early in the week.

The agreement could come in at $235 billion, or about $2 billion above what Hochul proposed in January, sources familiar with the discussions said. “The end appears to be in sight,” one official told Newsday.

The action came just hours after the State Assembly approved the latest short-term emergency spending bill to keep government operating, employees paid and grants flowing while negotiations continue. The State Senate passed the extender Thursday, and Hochul approved it Friday. The extension runs through Monday. 

The state budget was due April 1.

Plans to create affordable housing and provide tenant protections have been a key sticking point. But sources said a breakthrough agreement could include new affordable housing programs in New York City; a tax credit for commercial-to-residential building conversions; expansion of “accessory dwelling units,” or “granny apartments,” and more protections for renters, though not as strong as some progressive lawmakers and advocates wanted.

Though details hadn't fully emerged, sources said the deal would include boosts in the state's Tuition Assistance Program for college students, as well for the “distressed hospitals” fund and family courts. Further, the state could begin using specially designated “mental health” courts instead of criminal courts to preside over certain cases to help defendants.

The potential deal also could include provisions to adjust the state’s pension system to help more recent retirees by recalculating their final average salary. It also could include a boost in a fund that provides aid to municipalities, which has seen little to no growth in recent years.

Another sticking point had been Hochul's call to end a policy whereby no school district received less money than the year before, even if it lost enrollment. Sources said lawmakers were cobbling together various aid funds to make sure no district lost money this year while agreeing to a study to overhaul the school-aid formula. Hochul's proposal would have meant reduced state assistance for 337 of the more than 700 school districts in New York.

The delayed budget is cutting it close for school districts, which must submit budgets for voter approval in mid-May — even though the districts don’t yet know what their state aid will be.

“They are scrambling right now,” Assemb. Doug Smith (R-Holbrook) said Friday during the Assembly vote, noting that he’s received calls from several concerned schools on Long Island. “These folks are panicking.”

The fourth emergency budget extension authorizes $1.3 billion in spending to ensure state workers get paid and payments are made to programs, including those supporting homeless veterans; supplementing nutrition programs for women, children and infants; and providing unemployment insurance benefits.

ALBANY — A raft of housing initiatives, more tuition aid for college students and tougher enforcement measures against toll evaders and illegal cannabis shops are lining up to be included in a state budget agreement, rank-and-file lawmakers were told Friday, according to sources.

With the state budget nearly two weeks late, a flurry of Friday activity showed Gov. Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders moving toward a deal. Legislators were briefed Friday and told to prepare for another closed-door meeting Sunday, with voting possibly starting early in the week.

The agreement could come in at $235 billion, or about $2 billion above what Hochul proposed in January, sources familiar with the discussions said. “The end appears to be in sight,” one official told Newsday.

The action came just hours after the State Assembly approved the latest short-term emergency spending bill to keep government operating, employees paid and grants flowing while negotiations continue. The State Senate passed the extender Thursday, and Hochul approved it Friday. The extension runs through Monday. 

The state budget was due April 1.

Plans to create affordable housing and provide tenant protections have been a key sticking point. But sources said a breakthrough agreement could include new affordable housing programs in New York City; a tax credit for commercial-to-residential building conversions; expansion of “accessory dwelling units,” or “granny apartments,” and more protections for renters, though not as strong as some progressive lawmakers and advocates wanted.

Though details hadn't fully emerged, sources said the deal would include boosts in the state's Tuition Assistance Program for college students, as well for the “distressed hospitals” fund and family courts. Further, the state could begin using specially designated “mental health” courts instead of criminal courts to preside over certain cases to help defendants.

The potential deal also could include provisions to adjust the state’s pension system to help more recent retirees by recalculating their final average salary. It also could include a boost in a fund that provides aid to municipalities, which has seen little to no growth in recent years.

Another sticking point had been Hochul's call to end a policy whereby no school district received less money than the year before, even if it lost enrollment. Sources said lawmakers were cobbling together various aid funds to make sure no district lost money this year while agreeing to a study to overhaul the school-aid formula. Hochul's proposal would have meant reduced state assistance for 337 of the more than 700 school districts in New York.

The delayed budget is cutting it close for school districts, which must submit budgets for voter approval in mid-May — even though the districts don’t yet know what their state aid will be.

“They are scrambling right now,” Assemb. Doug Smith (R-Holbrook) said Friday during the Assembly vote, noting that he’s received calls from several concerned schools on Long Island. “These folks are panicking.”

The fourth emergency budget extension authorizes $1.3 billion in spending to ensure state workers get paid and payments are made to programs, including those supporting homeless veterans; supplementing nutrition programs for women, children and infants; and providing unemployment insurance benefits.

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