Capitol Watch: Budget Countdown Begins, Molinaro Sets A Date
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In New York state government news, lawmakers are buckling down for their annual budget negotiations ahead of an April 1 deadline and Republican Marc Molinaro has set a date to announce his candidacy for governor.
A look at stories making news:
The next two weeks are likely to be some of the busiest of the year as lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo work to pass a new state budget before the April 1 deadline.
On Wednesday, the Assembly and Senate each passed their own separate budget recommendations which will serve as the basis for negotiations between legislative leaders and Cuomo.
In most years, the last two weeks of March are a scramble as lawmakers and the governor work to hammer out a budget deal before the deadline. Sometimes they succeed, and sometimes the budget is late.
This year's schedule is more complicated due to the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter holidays. April 1 falls on Easter Sunday, with Good Friday and the start of Passover two days earlier.
Top lawmakers say they'll try to finish the budget early to make sure legislators and their staffs are home for the holidays.
"Deadlines are something we always deal with it here," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said. "I'm not concerned that we have two less days."
The sticking points in this year's budget include education spending, money for New York City subways and Cuomo's call for new tolls in Manhattan. Republicans in the Senate want to include new school safety measures, while Democrats in the Assembly are calling for the Dream Act, which would extend financial aid to students who entered the country illegally as children, and the Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations to give molestation victims more time to sue their abusers.
"Let the games begin," said Senate Leader John Flanagan, R-Long Island. "There is no reason in the world to not have an on-time budget."
MOLINARO SETS A DATE
Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro will formally kick off his campaign for governor April 2.
The Republican announced the date in an email to supporters the day after a Manhattan jury convicted former top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco on federal corruption charges. Molinaro signaled he'll make Albany ethics and corruption a key part of his campaign.
"(The) verdict is an indictment, not just of one of man, but of the cynical systematic corruption within a state government Gov. Cuomo has led," Molinaro wrote in the email. "New Yorkers deserve better."
Molinaro began telling GOP leaders he was running weeks ago and his campaign has already announced dozens of endorsements by local party leaders. But he has yet to hold a single campaign event or announce his intentions to the voting public.
Two other Republicans are running: Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse, and former state housing official Joseph Holland. The winner is expected to be selected at the state Republican Party convention later this spring.
DeFrancisco seized on Molinaro's apparent reticence about his campaign during remarks to reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday.
"You know another reason why I'm not too concerned about him? He hasn't announced yet," DeFrancisco said. "The real question is, is he a candidate, or is he waiting to be declared the candidate before he says he'll be the candidate?".