State lawmakers rush to beat midnight budget deadline

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Lawmakers plan to vote Tuesday on the final provisions of the state budget, including changes to teacher evaluations and an ethics proposal intended to clean up Albany’s pernicious corruption problem.

The final proposals, however, were given to lawmakers just hours before they were expected to vote, and the public still hasn’t seen many of the details. The reason for the rush? Legislators and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo want to pass the budget before a midnight deadline and the start of a new fiscal year begins.

“It’s not an ideal world,” Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters as the final bills were being printed. “It’s not an ideal situation. But the people in the state want an on-time budget.”

The ethics proposal will require lawmakers to disclose their outside income and will make lawyers in the Legislature identify clients. There will be exemptions, however, allowing lawmakers to redact the names of clients without ties to government. Lawyers paid by a firm for their political influence could also list no clients.

Government watchdog groups say that without the details it’s difficult to assess whether the exemptions are so broad as to undermine the measure’s intent.

The measure was prompted by the arrest of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who’s fighting charges that he took nearly $4 million in payoffs.

The education provision includes $1.4 billion in new school funding — though lawmakers only found out how much money each of their districts would get Tuesday.

It also includes a modified version of Cuomo’s proposal to overhaul teacher evaluation and tenure rules. Cuomo had wanted to revise evaluations to more greatly emphasis student test performance. The compromise with lawmakers would have the State Education Department review possible changes.

On Monday, lawmakers approved other budget provisions, including a new tax cut on the sale of boats costing $230,000 — a move that was criticized by some lawmakers and advocates who had hoped to see the budget include broader property tax relief or a minimum wage increase.

WIVB.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s