The State Legislature returns today from a two week break to begin its final two months of the session. The final budget came together after ongoing difficult negotiations that included another temporary extension of the “millionaires tax” which made balancing the budget much easier. Initially the Legislature approved a stopgap budget until late May but both houses wanted to complete the budget. They were concerned that the extension was a flat budget extension that didn’t address increased needs. They were especially concerned about school budget votes in May with voters not knowing what state aid would be provided.
The Legislature also responded to the possibility of major federal budget cuts later in the year. The Governor’s office is concerned that Congress will approve budget plans this week and in October that will include major spending cuts. The Governor had wanted his administration to be given power to make cuts later without the Legislature. However, the Legislature was adamantly against giving him that power. They did agree in the budget language to allow the Governor’s Budget office to propose a budget plan after any federal cuts are made. The Legislature would have 90 days to act on the proposed cuts or they would go into effect as proposed by the Governor.
As the Legislature returns, advocacy groups are ramping up their campaigns to enact bills. StateWide Senior Action Council plans an advocacy day on May 9 to push for universal health care, NY Health, and for safe staffing in health care facilities as well as addressing the home aide crisis.
Advocates for assisted suicide plan a lobby day in early May. They have been hoping to advance their legislation further than last year when it passed the Assembly Health Committee by a one vote margin. The bill has not come up for a vote there yet and its passage in the committee is uncertain. There are new members on the committee and an informal vote count shows 13 in favor and 13 opposed. If it passes the Health Committee it faces an even tougher battle in the Codes Committee where there are even more opponents.