Albany — The New York State Budget was due at midnight on Friday, but both the Senate and Assembly were sent home early Friday afternoon, still with several budget bills to vote on, let alone the budget itself.
The Senate dismissed until Monday, while the Assembly Democrats conferenced for about 30 minutes after being told they'd be "on-call" from Speaker Carl Heastie. Right now, lawmakers say they've signed one budget bill, and still need to be introduced to nine more.
"We'll go home for the weekend and keep our phones on," Republican Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh says. "We'll see if by some miracle there's been a meeting of the minds to come back next week and pass it. But we're going to have to start looking at an extender so that the state workforce can get paid."
If the budget isn't signed by Monday, paychecks won't go out to state workers, which can include charities and social service agencies as well.
Lawmakers tell CBS6 the legislature and Governor are far apart on several issues including public safety, housing, raising minimum wage, "taxing the rich", Medicaid and zero-emission buildings.
"Bail reform is the biggest thing," Republican Assemblyman Chris Tague says. "I think the progressives, at least here in the Assembly, they're not willing to budge. They want to keep bail reform just the way it is. The Governor doesn't feel that way, that's one area I actually agree with her."
The Governor has proposed to remove the "least restrictive means" language from the bail reform laws, saying it would help give judges more discretion.
"There's an inconsistency in our law right now," Governor Hochul says. "That's what I'm trying to fix in respect to the least restrictive means in particular. So there's been very productive conversations in this room, many meetings as recently as yesterday. Conversations on how to meet our mutual objectives in the object of public safety."
Politico reported earlier this week Speaker Carl Heastie was considering some concessions on the bail reform issue, but other Democrat Assemblymembers tell CBS6 they don't plan on changing anything.
The Governor's Housing Compact has also divided some in the legislature, many agreeing that housing needs to be addressed, but not all agreeing with the Governor's plan on accomplishing those goals.
The Governor is proposing local housing requirements with state power to override zoning restrictions, plus $250 million for infrastructure.
The Assembly and Senate leave those zoning restrictions out, but add another $250 million to make it $500 million for housing infrastructure like sewers and roads.
"I think the assembly put forward a compromise position," Democrat Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner says. "We provide some incentives to communities to help facilitate the growth of housing."
On Wednesday, 32 people were arrested in the Capitol while protesting for Good Cause Eviction to be included in the budget. Good Cause Eviction wasn't included in the Governor's budget, and both houses included support for the legislation, but many argue it's not a budget issue.
"Finding some of that common ground is hard," Assemblywoman (D) Patricia Fahy says. "Tenants are at the mercy of the landlords right now given the housing shortage. They're at the mercy of some very high rent increases in many areas of the state including right here [in the Capital Region]."
As rents have gone up, wages have stayed relatively steady for the last few years. Because of that, both the Governor and One-House Budgets include ways to raise the minimum wage. But, the sides still remain far apart. The Governor wants to index minimum wage to inflation right now, the One-House Budgets have provisions to boost the wage, then index. Democrat Assemblyman Phil Steck says there's talk of compromise.
"Minimum wages will be different for upstate and downstate," Steck, who is also a co-sponsor of a raise the minimum wage bill, says. "Some people certainly would support that difference because the cost of living is less, but I think not having strong minimum wage upstate is very dangerous for the upstate economy."
Lawmakers tell CBS6 the overly optimistic day to vote would be Wednesday, April 5th. If they don't vote then, they would wait until at least after Passover and Easter to move forward.