ALBANY - Gridlocked state budget negotiations devolved into finger-pointing and social-media sniping as the remaining lawmakers at the state Capitol weighed whether to hunker down or head home Thursday.
With a spending plan now six days late, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders were set to meet to determine their next steps with the lingering impasse showing no signs of breaking or even cooling off.
The contentious negotiations hit a low point late Wednesday, when state senators returned to their districts after Cuomo signaled no budget agreement was at hand.
The fractious talks spurred lawmakers and Cuomo to put their own spin on who or what deserves blame, with Cuomo blaming ideological differences between the Republican-led Senate and Democrat-led Assembly. Some Senate Republicans -- in a series of tweets and statements -- pointed squarely back at Cuomo himself.
In the meantime, the public waits: Measures that would clear the way for Uber and Lyft to expand statewide and expand tuition aid at public and private colleges won't go into effect until the stalemate is broken.
"The governor claims he'll keep working towards a final budget," Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton, Monroe County, said in a statement. "But the truth is he's embracing gridlock while middle-class tax relief, local school aid, and upstate ride-sharing hang in the balance."
Cuomo late Wednesday said he and the Legislature couldn't reach consensus on three key issues: Removing most 16- and 17-year-olds from the adult court and prison systems; extending an expired affordable-housing tax credit for New York City builders; and reshaping a major funding boost for charter schools due to take effect in June.
He also said he's looking for "flexibility" to make changes the Medicaid spending if the federal government cuts funding to the state.
"It’s very important to me as the executive, to make sure that we have that flexibility and not to over-commit," Cuomo said late Wednesday. "This year, flexibility to me financially is very important."
Lawmakers have pushed back on Cuomo's push, accusing him of looking for unilateral control over some spending decisions.
Now, an agreement on a budget could wait until after Easter -- if not later. Legislators don't get paid until a deal is reached, but Cuomo still does.
Lawmakers had been scheduled on Thursday to begin an 18-day break for Easter and Passover. And a temporary, emergency budget extender approved Monday by lawmakers will keep the government funded through the end of May.
Cuomo suggested Wednesday the budget talks could drag on throughout the year.
At one point, he weighed whether the state should follow the federal model of passing temporary "continuing resolutions" to keep state government funded as Washington weighs cuts.
"What a continuing resolution says is: We are not going to set a budget for a full year, we are going to set certain agencies’ budgets for certain periods of time," Cuomo said. "And that you can adjust."
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