Sunday, March 29, 2015

Four Budget Bills Pop Over Night

UFour budget bills were introduced before midnight on Saturday, while a broader deal on the state budget is yet to be reached. 

Measures introduced last night include spending plans for the legislative and judiciary, aid to localities spending, health and mental hygiene and the revenue bill. 

Gone from the budget framework is a property-tax rebate proposal akin to a “circuit-breaker” that would tie relief to a household’s income. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Saturday at the Capitol the property tax discussion, as well as a minimum wage increase, could be left for later in the legislative session, which runs through June. 

Major aspects of the 2015-16 state spending are yet to be ironed out, however. 

Lawmakers and Cuomo are yet to reach an agreement on education spending in the state, typically the final piece of the budget puzzle. 

But this year, Cuomo is pushing to include education reform measures in the budget, including a tougher teacher evaluation criteria and a receivership program for struggling schools. 

Assembly Democrats, in particular, have been hesitant to accept Cuomo’s education proposals. 

Nevertheless, education spending in the budget is no longer linked to the reforms, and lawmakers expect to have a district-by-district breakdown of school aid in the coming days.

It is expected the final education figure will stand at around $1.4 billion, if not more. 

At the same time, Cuomo is also pushing Senate Republicans to accept new disclosure measures for outside legal clients of state lawmakers. 

As of Sunday morning, neither the massive education, labor and family assistance bill or the ethics bill has appeared in print — meaning both will likely require a message of necessity from Cuomo to waive the required three-day aging process if officials want to meet Tuesday’s deadline. 

Cuomo is due back in Albany today after appearing at the Greek Independence Day Parade in his role as grand marshal. 

Lawmakers are also due back to the Capitol later in the day to conference the latest in the budget talks.

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