Albany State Capitol Building. Flickr Creative Commons license: wallyg
By Joseph Spector, Gannett Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY, NY - The state Assembly said Saturday it will push back voting on the state budget until Thursday because budget bills have yet to be printed.
The Senate said it will go into session at 3 p.m. Sunday as planned and hope to finish up on Monday night into Tuesday morning.
Lawmakers were set to return to the Capitol on Sunday night to vote on the $135 billion budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which starts April 1.
But budget bills would have needed to have been printed by Friday night in order to have a marathon voting session that was expected to extend from Sunday night into early Monday morning.
With the Jewish holiday of Passover to start Monday night and carry through Wednesday, the Democratic-led Assembly has decided to convene Thursday morning to pass the dozen or so budget bills in order to beat the April 1 deadline, said an Assembly spokesman.
Because Gov. Andrew Cuomo has insisted on a three-day waiting period for budget bills to be adopted and because some have yet to be printed, the earliest some bills could be voted on would be Tuesday -- including the important education spending bill, which decides how much aid each school district receives.
So the Senate plans to take up some bills that have been printed on Sunday night, and then reconvene late Monday through Tuesday to to finish up -- and cut into the planned spring recess for the Legislature that started last Friday.
The budget closes a $1.3 billion budget gap and increases spending for schools by more than $1 billion, to a total of $21 billion. It includes a deal to extend higher income taxes on millionaires and provide $350 rebate checks to families with children in 2014.
The budget also includes tax breaks for businesses and includes a three-year phase of an increase in the minimum wage -- from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour by 2016.
It's a peculiar scheduling year for the budget season. Since Passover and Easter are early this year, the legislative calendar was moved up a week, and the original goal was to have the budget finished by last Friday.
But Cuomo has cautioned that the Legislature has until April 1 to pass a budget, and it appears they'll cut it closer to the deadline that originally planned. It would be the third consecutive year that a budget has been passed on time -- a first since 1984.