Hopes in New York for Sunday budget deal

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ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York state budget is now two days late as lawmakers struggle to find agreement on education spending, charter schools and juvenile justice reform.

The Assembly and Senate plan to work late Sunday in the hopes of striking a deal.

If they fail to reach agreement by Monday, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to introduce legislation that would extend the current budget, a backup plan that would leave out popular proposals to increase college tuition aid or invest billions of dollars in the state’s aging water infrastructure.

Under state law legislative pay could be withheld as long as lawmakers fail to pass a budget, giving them another reason to strike a deal.

Alternatively, if lawmakers reject Cuomo’s budget extender it could force a government shutdown. Many lawmakers still blame Cuomo for killing a proposed legislative pay hike last year — which would have been the first in nearly 20 years — which could be complicating the budget negotiations.

One key sticking point remains a proposal known as “raise the age” that would end the state’s practice of prosecuting and incarcerating 16- and 17-year-old offenders as adults. The change is a priority for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and other Democrats, but it has raised concerns among Senate Republicans.

Lawmakers in North Carolina, the only other state where 16- and 17-year-old offenders are prosecuted as adults, are also considering legislation to raise the age.

Negotiations also focused on how to divide increased education funding and whether to increase the number of authorized charter schools.
The budget deal is likely to include $2 billion to $2.5 billion for water quality and upgrades to the state’s aging water infrastructure,

Republican Senate Leader John Flanagan said, as well as $163 million to make college tuition more affordable.

Cuomo introduced his $152 billion budget proposal in January. It keeps the status quo when it comes to taxes, adds $1 billion in new public education spending and includes expanded child care tax credits and a new initiative making state college tuition free for students from families earning $125,000 or less annually.

The governor first floated the idea of extending the current budget last week, citing the likelihood of cuts in federal funding for health care and other programs. He said delaying work on the budget for a few months, until after those federal cuts are laid out, could make it easier for the state to adjust.