ALBANY – The Assembly and Senate reconvened behind closed doors Sunday night to continue negotiations over a state budget, which is now two days late.
The roughly $152 billion spending plan is the latest since 2010, when the budget wasn't approved until early August.
But the sides were hopeful Sunday that a deal was near -- as is hours or days, not months. The state's fiscal year started Saturday.
"I think there is general optimism that we’re close to having a final agreement on all the outstanding issues," Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, Rockland County.
There's a host of issues holding up votes, and bills had not even been printed as of Sunday night. Lawmakers were set to do another round of private meetings late Sunday.
Raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18, legalizing ride-hailing services outside New York City and funding for schools were among the issues outstanding.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is also pushing for a three-year initiative to make SUNY tuition free for those who earn less than $125,000. He also wants to require local governments to find new ways to share services and take those plans to voters in November.
Legislative leaders revealed little about the ongoing talks Sunday.
"It's the same issues we've been talking about for six weeks," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said as he exited a meeting in Cuomo's office.
Even high-ranking lawmakers said they were unsure of the state of negotiations.
Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, turned his palms toward the sky as he left the GOP's office Sunday afternoon.
Some lawmakers were increasingly frustrated by the process.
"If NY was a country, it'd have world's 11th largest economy, ahead of Russia & Mexico, just behind Canada," Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, wrote on Twitter. "Is this any way to pass a budget?"
The clock is ticking for several reasons.
With a budget, New York could face a government shutdown. The next payroll deadline is Wednesday.
Cuomo, meanwhile, told lawmakers that he would issue a budget extender on Monday if a budget deal isn't reached.
An extender, he said, would keep government operating through mid-May, giving the state time to get a sense if it will face budget cuts from Congress.
But an extender may also mean legislators would not get paid until a final budget agreement is approved.
"If the Legislature does not reach agreement at the conclusion of the weekend, then I will put forth emergency legislation to extend the current budget," Cuomo said in an early Saturday statement.
"Extending the state budget also allows us flexibility to adjust to future federal changes, which if enacted, could cost the state billions."
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