Capitol Watch: Will State Budget Be Late?
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — On-time budgets have long been a priority for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a way to demonstrate government effectiveness.
That's why it is noteworthy that Cuomo's top budget director is now warning the budget may not pass before the April 1 deadline because of disagreements with Cuomo's fellow Democrats in the Legislature.
Cuomo argues lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate want a budget that is too bloated when compared to his $175 billion budget proposal. He's also blasted the Assembly for not including a provision in its budget recommendation that would make permanent the 2 percent property tax cap implemented in 2012. While the Senate has signed off on the last measure, the Assembly has not.
Cuomo budget director Robert Mujica told reporters at the Capitol last week that lawmakers and the governor were so far apart that the prospects for a "an on-time, responsible government budget" was "virtually impossible."
Cuomo's top adviser, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, was even plainer, calling the budget proposals from Democratic lawmakers "fantasy land."
According to Cuomo's budget office, the Senate budget proposal would spend $3.5 billion more than Cuomo's plan. Mujica said fiscal caution is required because of the threat of federal cuts to Medicaid — and the fear of a softening economy.
The Democratic leaders of the Senate and Assembly, meanwhile, are defending their budget proposals and noting that disagreements over the details of the budget are to be expected two weeks before the deadline.
"We're going to go forward and try to do this budget, do it on time," said Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.
BAD BLOOD? Some Democratic lawmakers are objecting to what they see as a nasty tone coming from Cuomo this year. The governor has been especially critical of Senate Democrats, whose concerns about big subsidies to Amazon he blames for killing the company's plans to build a new second headquarters in Queens.
Democrats won control of the Senate in last fall's elections after a decade of Republican rule in the chamber. Cuomo last week criticized the Senate's new Democratic leaders as inexperienced and said they're putting politics over good governance.
"They have not governed... and they're political," he said.
Stewart-Cousins said she spoke to Cuomo about the criticism and that she hopes the governor and lawmakers can work together.
"I question obviously why there is a constant criticism," she said of Cuomo. "We are all focused on making sure that we are serving the people of New York state... We're going to go forward and try to do this budget, do it on time."
Monday: Lawmakers kick-off three day work week in Albany.
Friday: Joint Senate-Assembly hearing on transit, Syracuse.
April 1: Budget deadline.