New York Lawmakers Lurch Toward a State Budget


State lawmakers are lurching toward a final budget vote in Albany.

The state Assembly began voting on the first of several budget bills Wednesday, following the first votes in the Senate a day earlier.

The pace has slowed as lawmakers await the details of school funding increases and a Democratic proposal to end the state’s practice of automatically prosecuting and incarcerating 16- and 17-year-old offenders in adult court.

As of Wednesday afternoon it appeared unlikely the Legislature could give final approval to the $152 billion budget before Thursday at the earliest.

Upstate Uber, increased tuition assistance and more money for schools are just a few of the items in the $152 billion spending plan after lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo resolved a stalemate that forced them to blow past a Saturday budget deadline.

The budget legislation keeps taxes flat, increases public education spending by $1 billion, raises college tuition assistance and invests $2.5 billion in upgrades for the state’s aging water infrastructure.

It also would allow Uber and Lyft to expand into upstate cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. The two app-based ride-hailing services are now limited to the New York City area.

Another provision, a priority for Democrats, would end the state’s distinction as one of only two states that automatically prosecute and incarcerate 16- and 17-year-old offenders as adults.

To avert a government shutdown, lawmakers and Cuomo approved a two-month extension of the last budget on Monday. But under state law, legislative pay will be withheld until lawmakers approve a full budget, and lawmakers were eager to get back to complete their work.

“You’re at the point where you might not get everything that you want,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx). “I’m not going to allow the Assembly to get blamed for there not being a budget.”