Business As Usual During Albany Budget Negotiations
Governor Cuomo called Albany’s $175 billion deal “the best budget” of his tenure. But the Legislature is tired of the Governor’s notorious back-door negotiating process.
Governor Cuomo had hoped this budget season would run smoothly with a newly-elected Democratic majority in the Senate. But he was faced with an unprecedented amount of criticism from the progressive wing of his own party.
Tensions between the Governor and lawmakers heightened during the aftermath of the Amazon deal collapse and Cuomo continued to chastise public officials as budget negotiations were underway. The Governor’s once outspoken critics crumbled as the budget process dragged on, and ultimately Cuomo got everything he wanted in the final budget.
Perhaps that’s because they were left out of the negotiation process altogether. The New York Times highlights that Albany’s biggest deals are negotiated by “three men in a room,” where the governor, Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader craft proposals behind closed doors.
Albany also continued its practice of using gubernatorial messages of necessity to avoid the mandated three-day waiting period for review of budget bills before they come to a vote. Some new lawmakers expressed that they felt shut out by the process, with little to no input until asked to vote on a measure.
And then there were legislative pay raises on the line. As lawmakers were scrambling to finalize the budget, they learned that they must also pass an additional resolution to phase in the Governor’s pay raise.
Several lawmakers spoke anonymously to the Times Union, saying they felt “pressured” to vote in favor of the resolution, which ultimately passed. While the budget technically missed its midnight deadline, state law conveniently does not define what constitutes a “timely” budget.
Once again, the budget’s biggest winner was Governor Cuomo.
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Image credit- CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia