Borrello Blasts Policy Issues Delaying State Budget

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, speaks on the Senate floor Thursday before a Senate vote to on legislation extending the state budget while negotiations continue.

A fourth budget extender approved late this week in Albany will keep New York’s government operating through Monday.

The budget was due April 1. The holdup, according to Associated Press reports from Albany, is housing policy, with Democratic Party leaders in the Assembly, Senate and Gov. Kathy Hochul trying to balance the demands of developers, tenants and labor to reach an agreement that will lead to more housing units across the state.

A deal is expected to include a tax break for developers to spur construction, a wage agreement for laborers and protections for tenants against some rent increases and evictions, among other things, though the specifics remain unclear.

The focus on non-budget policy in the budget has long drawn the ire of state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, who continued his argument during debate on the budget extender Thursday while voting in favor of the budget extender.

“We’re late on this budget but it’s really not because of numbers,” Borrello said. “It’s not because of the finances of the state. It’s because of controversial policy that is included in this budget, things that we cannot get agreement on. I think that’s the problem here folks. In local government, in county government, you do a budget and it’s about the finances of the state, the projections of revenues and what you’re going to spend. And if it were I suspect we’d probably have an on-time budget. Instead we’re hiding controversial policy within the cracks and crevices of this very large document.”

Borrello has lobbied on behalf of legislation (S.2062) sponsored by Sen. Nathalia Fernandez, D-Bronx, that would eliminate policy from the state budget. The bill was first introduced in 2018 and predates Borrello in the state Senate, though Borrello has supported the bill since at least 2020. The bill has bipartisan co-sponsors, but hasn’t moved out of committee in the Senate.

Housing isn’t the only policy issue holding up the roughly $230 billion spending plan.

Hochul’s plan to shift how the state doles out money to school districts — which would have resulted in some schools getting less money — had also been a point of contention at the bargaining table and among school administrators. The governor told reporters last week she was backing off the proposal and would instead revisit it next year.

Legislative leaders are also still pushing back against the governor’s effort to increase criminal penalties for assaulting retail workers, an initiative that is part of her wider strategy to address criminal justice concerns in the state. And there are ongoing negotiations over how officials can better crack down on unlicensed marijuana shops, which have become ubiquitous in New York City as bureaucratic hurdles and lawsuits have stalled the legal market. Hochul last month ordered a comprehensive review of the state agency that regulates legal marijuana in New York.

“I hear the frustration in the room,” said Sen. Liz Krueger, D-New York City and Senate Finance Committee chairwoman. “I think everybody’s suffering from some frustration. … It’s an interesting question. Can you do a budget completely pure of policy? You probably can’t. But to add another issue raised here, there probably is too much policy in this budget. We actually have worked to try to remove any number of issues that we don’t think should be in the budget because they don’t have a budget impact or they get short shrift when they are done in the middle of 10 major bills filled with money issues, so I do agree with those who think there is too much policy in this budget. I will have to take a look at the bill to see whether I could support a bill that had no policy in it, at least as it was described.”


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