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Another day, another budget extender: Lawmakers continue debating spending bill

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  • Staff Report 

New York State’s budget deadline has been pushed back for the third time, with lawmakers approving a three-day extension on Monday to guarantee that over 80,000 state employees receive their paychecks on time. The initial deadline was April 1, then extended to April 10 and later to April 17. Legislators now have until Thursday, April 20, to pass the budget and keep the government functioning.

Two primary issues have caused the delay in the 2023 fiscal year budget: bail reform and housing. Lawmakers continue to debate alterations to the 2019 law that abolished cash bail for the majority of individuals charged with misdemeanors or non-violent felonies.

Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed eliminating a portion of the reform that mandates judges use only the “least restrictive means” to ensure defendants return to court. This change would grant judges more discretion in detaining those accused of crimes. However, State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt opposes the modification, advocating for more extensive rollbacks to the bail reform laws.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Another contentious issue is the New York Housing Compact’s proposal to build 800,000 homes statewide in response to the housing crisis. The plan would involve amending zoning laws to permit construction in areas where it is currently prohibited, such as near public transit systems.

The new state budget would also permit the sale of to-go alcohol at bars for the next three years. Although this was allowed early in the pandemic, the measure expired in June 2021. Additionally, the budget allocates $112,000 for renovations to the Boys & Girls Club in Rochester and a $10 million expansion of the Susan B. Anthony Museum, including a pressurized room for preserving historic documents.