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Lawmakers face uncertainties with state budget

Emily De Vito and WNYT Staff
Created: March 31, 2020 08:48 AM

The coronavirus pandemic, along with new strict social distancing guidelines, is changing the way that lawmakers at the state Capitol vote on the state budget. The deadline for lawmakers to pass an on-time budget is midnight on Tuesday. 

Normally at this time, lawmakers would be seen at the Capitol debating and working until the early morning hours to make sure a budget is passed on time -- but the times have changed due to this pandemic.

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What's also changed is having to pass a spending plan -- when you really don't know what your revenue is.     

The state started the year with Governor Andrew Cuomo saying there is a $6 billion gap -- now he says it could be more like $15 billion since no revenue is coming in amid this pandemic.         

When it comes to federal aid -- the governor said it doesn't put a dent in the gap.     

Some issues in the budget to look at are education -- Cuomo had said they may have to make changes on that throughout the year after he had called for a large increase in funding originally. Policy issues such as medical marijuana and changes to bail reform remain up in the air.    

The New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly have passed similar legislation allowing lawmakers to vote virtually.    

The hard part here -- especially with these policy changes -- is the impact voting virtually will have on lawmakers negotiating the budget.    

The resolution voted on in the assembly on Monday has some lawmakers uncertain.

Governor Cuomo said he may have to have more control over the budget throughout the year since there is just so much uncertainty with it right now.    

Some lawmakers have said as long as they get some say in final decisions -- that is fine.    

Overall it sounds like it will be a lot of rolling with the punches this year.

To hear more about the budget, click on Emily De Vito’s report.


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