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Early Budget Seems Unlikely For Albany As State Senate Begins Voting Process

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TWC News: Early Budget Seems Unlikely For Albany As State Senate Begins Voting Process
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Members of the State Senate reconvened this morning to work out details on a new state budget, while the Assembly will likely not be back until Thursday when they're expected to address controversial items including tax cuts and a hike in the state's minimum wage. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

It's been several days since state leaders announced a deal on the $135 billion state budget. But if a deal were in place, the bills would have been printed: Not all of them have.

"The entire budget consists of 10 bills, one of which we passed last week. I believe there are another three we are passing today. So there are still six more bills including most of the controversial items which have yet to come," said State Senator Michael Gianaris.

The most controversial items include tax cuts and a hike in the state's minimum wage. But some signals seemed to get crossed over what has been agreed upon and what hasn't.

"In some ways it reminds of those years. I served in the legislature. I think the biggest challenge is that many important decisions are being made, some of them not directly related to the process but being rolled into the budget. I think we should put a greater emphasis on transparency so the public knows what's going on," said State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The senate came up for a Sunday voting session, but the Assembly did not. A spokesman for Speaker Sheldon Silver issued a statement saying negotiations are ongoing.

"Again, they made their schedule known later in the week. They wanted to come back in Thursday. We thought it was important to get it done as quickly as possible," said State Senator and Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein.

Lawmakers had wanted to break in time for the Easter and Passover holidays. Passover begins Monday night. Silver is an Orthodox Jew, as are a handful of New York City Assembly members.

"If it affects members then they should respect their religion and do whatever they have to do. I am a Catholic. Today's Palm Sunday and I am here working," said State Senator and Republican Conference Leader Tom Libous.

State senators are expected to reconvene Monday morning at 11 a.m. before heading back to their districts Monday night, possibly returning midweek to finish up the budget.

The Assembly will not even be back in Albany until Thursday.

Both houses technically have until April 1 to pass the budget.

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