No Drama in N.Y. Budget Slated For Early Approval

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -

New York’s budget battles have a colorful history of power plays, finger-pointing and deadlines missed by months. By comparison, this year’s may be one of the dullest as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature head toward adopting a widely supported spending plan early and without drama.

“And that’s good,” said Elizabeth Lynam of the independent Citizens Budget Commission. “The track seems to be pretty greased for an early budget this year. It’s another year where we don’t have to look like the poster child for late budgeting.”

The Senate and Assembly are expected to announce their proposed changes to Cuomo’s $143 billion budget Monday or Tuesday, though closed-door negotiations among legislative leaders and the governor have been under way for weeks.

The budget is scheduled to be adopted by March 21, 10 days before it is due since the legislature breaks from March 22 through April 14.

Cuomo has proposed a budget with about a 2 percent increase in state spending and no new taxes. The current deficit is about $1 billion, compared with a $10 billion gap in Cuomo’s first budget.

The Legislature traditionally adds less than 1 percent to the governor’s proposed budget, usually in the areas that hit New Yorkers most such as school aid, taxes, fees and health care.

Issues not easily resolved in the budget are put off until later in the half-year session, including a hike in the minimum wage and Cuomo’s proposed approval of three or more casinos.

“There’s nothing out [of the budget] until you have a budget,” Cuomo said last week.