ALBANY - State senators gave final approval to a $153 billion state budget plan Sunday night, nearly nine days after it was due.
The Republican-led Senate approved the final three bills needed to enact the spending plan late Sunday, a day after the Democrat-led Assembly did the same.
The votes put an end to the lingering budget impasse among Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers, which led the Senate to leave the Capitol in frustration Wednesday night when talks broke down.
The stalemate bled into the start of the state's fiscal year, which began April 1. Sunday's approval marked the latest state budget under Cuomo's nearly seven-year tenure.
“I’ve heard a lot of people on both sides of the aisle say that in this budget, there are a lot of things you like and a lot of things you don’t like,” Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, said. “And I certainly am of the same opinion.”
The weekend's votes came after Cuomo announced he and legislative leaders had reached a budget agreement late Friday.
The budget sets the state's spending plans for the 2017-18 fiscal year while make a broad array of policy changes, including a measure to soon remove 16- and 17-year-olds from the adult court and prison systems.
"It really did a lot of great work, this budget, on a number of levels," Cuomo said Sunday on 970-AM in Manhattan.
Among the other programs included in the budget are measures authorizing ride-hailing services across the state beginning in July, creating a program to wipe out SUNY tuition for income-eligible students and requiring local governments to find ways to share services to lower costs.
It also includes a $1.1 billion increase in funding for the state's roughly 700 public schools and a measure allowing SUNY to increase the regular tuition rate by $200 a year for the next three years.
The SUNY tuition program will begin this fall, with those households earning less than $100,000 a year eligible for free tuition. The threshold increases to $125,000 by 2019. SUNY tuition is currently $6,470 a year.
All of those initiatives were included in the state revenue bill, one of 10 bills needed to pass the budget. The Senate approved it by a 53-4 vote.
"It is not good policy -- it should not be the case -- that we're taking one vote on all of these issues," said Sen. Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx.
The budget approval means lawmakers will receive their paychecks, which were withheld last Wednesday.
A 1999 state law prevents lawmakers from collecting their pay until a final budget agreement is approved if they blow through the March 31 deadline to have a spending plan in place.
The Legislature is currently supposed to be on an 18-day Easter break, which was interrupted by the budget stalemate.
The Assembly remained in Albany through the week, staying through the night Friday and finishing up voting Saturday.
Senators returned to the Capitol on Sunday after returning to their districts Wednesday night. They finished voting just after 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
"All New Yorkers scored a victory with this budget, as the Senate led the way on controlling state spending, protecting the taxpayer and making critical investments in measures that will protect public health and grow our economy," Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County, said in a statement.
Senate Democrats, though, have been critical of the budget process and some of the pieces that didn't make it in the final plan, such as ethics reforms and allowing undocumented immigrants to receive tuition assistance.
"This budget deal moves us forward, but we can do more to protect New Yorkers’ rights and build a stronger, fairer state," Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said in a statement.
(From The Journal News/lohud.com)
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