The last several weeks has been all budget all the time at the Capitol. Most people thought this budget would be a no drama budget mostly because there was not a lot of money to fight over and the Governor (Executive) has most of the power thanks to his predecessor former Governor David Paterson. Following a lawsuit during the last year Mr. Paterson was in office, a Governor now can just wait out the legislature until after the beginning of the fiscal year, put his entire Executive budget into an extender and then dare the Legislature to shut down government. It kind of gives the Governor a lot of leverage with the Legislature and "encourages" them to deal and get a budget done. Subsequently we have had three straight budgets on time, makes them all look positively functional.
As far as the budget process itself, it was feeble to non-existent. They had one "mother ship" conference committee and a series of subcommittees which had no table targets so lasted only minutes. An all leaders’ meeting was done behind closed doors with four men in a room this year. Yes, we have an early budget but that's about the best you can say about it. Up until eight o'clock Wednesday night, several issues not related to the budget were holding up the budget getting printed so leaders finally decided to push them aside and just get the budget printed and debated before the religious holidays begin and their vacations start.
What we know about what's in the budget:
- We know there will be a minimum wage phased in over two years up to $9.00 by the end of 2015.
- We know that NYC and a few other districts upstate will to get their state aid ($240 million for the city because they did not meet the teacher evaluation deadline).
- We also know that education funds will go to those districts in a different way to make up for those losses.
- We also know that legalization of small amounts of marijuana will not be in this budget (we think) and that the "adjustments" of the SAFE act also will not be in the budget.
- We know that the $120 million cut to the agency which deals with the developmentally disabled will be somewhat restored but we don't know by how much.
- We also know that this budget will get debated without a message of necessity but will be debated most likely in an all night session on Saturday and maybe Sunday so stay tuned.