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Budget negotiations continue

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Budget negotiations continue
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State lawmakers have a little more than a week to hammer out the details of a state budget. As Capital tonight's Nick Reisman reports, Senate and Assembly leaders say they're moving quickly in negotiations.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- With six session days to go before the 2012-13 budget is due, state lawmakers are still working to hammer out how best to divvy up $200 million in education and grants and whether to grant Governor Andrew Cuomo broader authority of moving money within the spending plan.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "I think we'll resolve this budget hopefully by next week and we'll have the appropriate balance on all issues."

Meanwhile, the Committee to Save New York, a business-backed coalition aligned with Cuomo's fiscal agenda, issued a 60-second radio advertisement promoting the governor's jobs and infrastructure plan, part of his $132.5 billion proposal.

"To rebuild our economy and create jobs now, tell your legislator to pass the Governor’s budget."

Then there's the story of what won't be in the budget. All sides agree a proposal to raise the state's minimum wage to $8.50 an hour won't be included. Both Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Governor Andrew Cuomo oppose putting member items, otherwise known as legislative pork, into the final draft. And while Speaker Sheldon Silver says he wants member items this year, the budget won't be late because of that.

"The Assembly is not holding up the budget," Silver said.

Skelos says that Republicans also want to alter a provision proposed by Cuomo that would allow him to move money around within the budget after the spending plan is approved.

"It's not a matter of denying," Skelos said. "We're negotiating a position that we feel as I've said before that the Legislature is part of the process and we're going to maintain that separation of power and integrity."

Skelos also shot down the idea of adopting the Assembly's proposal to spend $100,000 to study the health effects of hydrofracking, a controversial natural gas extraction process."

Skelos said, "We have studies upon studies. You know, the DEC is doing studies, private individuals are doing studies, industry is doing studies so I would stick with what DEC is doing and wait for their report."

The budget is due by April 1. One potential stumbling block is already out of the way after the Legislature last week approved the governor's new pension tier for future public workers

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