The bizarre language of budget season on Planet Albany

Some of the timelines and metaphors have been out of this world.

State budget negotiations have necessitated several types of comparisons this year.

State budget negotiations have necessitated several types of comparisons this year. Tatyana Antusenok/Getty Images

Planet Albany, as the state Capitol is sometimes referred to, has a language all its own, from goo-goos to lulus. This year’s budget season has been filled with a colorful array of timelines and metaphors describing the progress that has been made. While the budget will be at least two weeks late, legislative leaders, in their own ways, have been keeping everyone up to date on the negotiations among the “three people in the room.”

Twisted timeline

For the past two years, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has channeled Semisonic’s “Closing Time” lyric that says “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” in structuring the different phases of her budget updates.

In her first timeline update on March 12, Stewart-Cousins said, “We are close to the end of the beginning.” On March 27, she said, “We’re at the middle of the middle.” And on April 9, she said, “We are at the beginning of the end, but the end is hard.

What galaxy is this again?

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is more of a spatial thinker. On March 26, he said, “Sometimes in the budget, you might be in a different galaxy. I don’t know if we’re in the same country yet. But I think we’re at least on the same planet.” Stewart-Cousins agreed the next day: “We are all on the same planet.” And as the budget has progressed, state leaders have continued to zoom in on the map. On April 4, Heastie said, “We might be in the same neighborhood, I don’t know if we’re on the same block yet.” Next stop, the same house?

Making all local stops

In a metaphor a little closer to home, at least for New York City lawmakers, Heastie on April 2 compared budget negotiations to the slow, steady travel on the subways. “The train is going in the right direction, but maybe we are riding on the local track and not the express track,” he said. In response online, Assembly Member Kenny Burgos said, “Local 6 train omg.”