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State lawmakers hope to finally finish the overdue budget this weekend

This file photo shows the New York state Capitol in Albany.
Hans Pennink
Associated Press file photo
This file photo shows the New York state Capitol in Albany.

New York lawmakers planned to work into the weekend to complete the state budget, now 19 days late. On Friday afternoon, the Senate and Assembly were debating bills, but one remaining measure that would include a comprehensive housing deal and distribute school aid, was not yet completed. 

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said that work on the overdue budget is finally coming to a close. And she joked that recent incidents have not helped to hasten agreements.


Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins speaks to reporters on April 18, 2024
Karen DeWitt New York Public News Network
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins speaks to reporters on April 18, 2024

A minor earthquake struck the state on April 5, the solar eclipse occurred on April 8, and the legislative bill drafting system was the target of a cyberattack earlier in the week, although staff was able to use an older technology to complete the budget bills. 

Meanwhile, Governor Hochul touted one of the provisions that’s been agreed to in the budget, a crack down on illegal cannabis shops. Thousands have sprung up across the state in recent years, as New York legalized the use of adult recreational marijuana, but was slow to issue licenses for legal retail outlets. 

“We'll weed out the illegitimate shops and clear the way for the licensed owners so they can grow their budding businesses and realize their dreams,” said Hochul. “Many of these are Black, Latino, women, immigrant, military, veteran, entrepreneurs. Some have been harmed by the long and futile war on drugs.” 

Police will be able to immediately padlock a shop found to be in violation of the state’s cannabis laws, instead of letting the operators continue to sell illegal cannabis while the case winds through the courts. 

On the Senate floor, the ranking minority party member of the Finance Committee, Republican Tom O’Mara, criticized the lack of transparency over the budget, several days after Hochul announced a tentative budget deal on Monday night. 

“We are four days now post the governor announcing a budget agreement that still isn't finalized yet,” said O’Mara, who said lawmakers and the public were given only a few hours to review the bills before the vote was scheduled. “So the public and us, the minority side of the house, get less than 12 hours of review on this.”

Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger, who, like Hochul, is a Democrat, chided the governor for her announcement, saying it was premature. 

“I can't possibly explain why the Governor announced it was all done on Monday, because we didn't ever believe it was,” said Kruger.“ So you would have to ask her why it wasn't done on Monday when she said it was.” 

Krueger and other lawmakers said they hope they can finish approving the spending plan by the end of the weekend.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.