Part of this year's state budget has some political observers shaking their heads in disgust.
Last week, we reported the state, as part of the 2013-2014 budget deal, is likely to send a rebate check to some New Yorkers. But now there's more emphasis on the timing of the funds.
Last week, the governor and state lawmakers agreed to extend the "millionaire's tax" in New York. In exchange, they're cutting middle class taxes. Part of that tax cut is a $350 rebate check for families with children.
But those checks will not be mailed out until next fall, perhaps as late as October of 2014, according to some lawmakers. That's right before the November 2014 election, when everyone, including the governor, is up for re-election.
To many, including Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, the timing is too convenient to be a coincidence. In fact, she called it a "gimmick."
REPORTER: Doesn't this seem just like a giveaway to get everyone re-elected?
PEOPLES-STOKES: Well, it would appear that way. And I think, for the appearance sake of it, if it's going to happen, it should happen immediately.
Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, D-Cheektowaga, also is unhappy about the timing of the rebate checks.
REPORTER: How do you think the timing of this looks to the general public?
GABRYSZAK: I'm sure the timing looks as if it's strictly political. I can't deny that, and I'm not happy about it. But once again, I don't make that call. I don't know if that's going to be the governor or the leaders have negotiated it.
Both Gabryszak and Peoples-Stokes said they will request the rebates be sent out sooner, so it's not tied to the election. However, the checks are unlikely to be distributed in 2013. Albany had to delay the rebate until next year because the state cannot afford it this year.
The other issue regarding this rebate is who actually qualifies for it. One version of the budget indicates the rebate is available to all married couples with a child of any age under 18. Another version indicates the child must be at least four years old. The final budget, likely to be approved before next week, should clear up the discrepancy.