After a long standoff in Albany, the last two weeks of closed-door talks finally resulted in a late state budget. But there are a number of provisions that slipped in largely without much notice. Zack Fink filed the following report.
After two weeks of supposed agreements, leaks about framework agreements and then no actual budget deal until last Friday night, it's now clear what finally broke the logjam.
Facing uncertainty in Washington with Donald Trump in the White House, Governor Andrew Cuomo got the legislature to give him the authority to open up the budget midyear for adjustments if there are federal cuts.
"If it wasn't for the federal response plan, then I think it would have been more prudent to do a continuing resolution. And operate under a continuing resolution."
The new authority gives the governor new powers to make midyear cuts. The legislature will have 90 days to come up with its own plan that would technically override the governor's, but Cuomo seemed confident that lawmakers wouldn't be able to get their act together to do that.
"If they come back and approve a plan to cut funding? God bless them. I should be so lucky. No, they pass it, God bless them," Cuomo said.
The legislature also did not act to make any adjustments in the budget to procurement reform. Good-government groups argue that a lack of adequate controls on purchsing and hiring with state economic development funds led to federal charges last fall against nine people with ties to Governor Cuomo, including Joe Percoco once Cuomo's most trusted aide.
"They did not stand up for New Yorkers and they did not stand up for accountability in government. And they were completely rolled by the governor on economic development spending," said John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany.
Procurement reform can still be taken up by before the end of the legislative session, although critics are fairly ceratin it will not be. As for opening up the budget to account for federal cuts, the federal budget is proposed next month, it is finalized in April.