Wednesday, April 23, 2014


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Delayed Vote On State Budget Irks Senate GOP Leaders

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While state lawmakers seem to have reached a consensus on a budget deal, state Assembly leaders are facing criticism from state Senate Republicans for delaying the final vote until later in the week. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

The state budget bills have all been printed, and on Monday they were sitting on the desks of state Assembly members in Albany, waiting to be voted into law.

The assembly won't even begin that vote until Thursday, eight days after a budget agreement was announced.

"I think the shocking thing was that the speaker decided that the assembly will come back on Thursday. Which, you know, it's hard to negotiate when you are not here. And I think those days in between were valuable days," said State Senator Tom Libous, the deputy Republican conference leader.

Complicating matters are religious observances. Passover begins Monday night and Assembly Speaker Sheldon silver is an Orthodox Jew. Sources say the speaker prevented bills from getting printed by keeping the negotiations going.

In a radio interview on WCNY-AM on Monday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissed the notion that there was any delay.

"These are silly little things. It's a very strong budget. It's going to be done on time," Cuomo said. "It's been done collegially, which hasn't been done in a long time."

The budget raises the minimum wage and provides middle-class tax relief in the form of rebate checks. But as days passed without a final agreement, critics began to throw darts.

State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, a Democrat, said on Sunday, "The senate Democrats have had a problem with this minimum wage deal from the outset. We believe it gets to $9 too slowly, it does not include indexing to inflation."

"If we actually did the indexing now before the $9 kick-in, it would take anywhere from 2020 to 2021 before that $9 would kick in," said State Senator Jeff Klein, the independent Democratic conference leader. "So I don't necessarily think that is the way to go."

The bottom line is the state budget is not due until April 1, so there is time. Lawmakers had hoped for an early budget last week, but they still have an opportunity to do that, even if it is early by two days instead of 10.

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