With the state budget almost a month late, state Senate and Assembly Republicans have expressed opposition to a message of necessity from the governor for the final state budget. The message of necessity waives a three-day review period for bills before the state Legislature.
“If politics are important enough that they hold up the budget for nearly a month, then at a minimum they should warrant a full public vetting and honor the three-day aging period,” Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay wrote in a statement.
The state constitution requires a three-day aging process for bills so that lawmakers can read them. In urgent situations, a governor can propose waiving that period with approval from the majority of lawmakers. Messages of necessity are also often used at the end of the legislative session when the Legislature has limited time to review and pass a slew of bills often referred to as “the Big Ugly.”
Critics – including the good government group Citizens Budget Commission – have often argued using the tool makes it even more unlikely that lawmakers can review complex budget provisions before voting on them.
The offices of the governor and legislative leaders did not respond to a request for comment.
Last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s first budget was approved nine days past the deadline, and the process was largely done behind closed doors (in the tradition of many budgets before hers), sparking criticism because of Hochul’s promise for transparency. Hochul then implemented a message of necessity for the Legislature to vote on the budget.
Amid criticism of the practice, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo used a message of necessity in 2015 to ensure budget bills were passed on time and went on to tout his leadership overseeing four on-time budgets. Critics of messages of necessity also expressed great opposition to the use of the tool in voting on Cuomo’s Safe Act in 2013, a controversial gun-control law following the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. At the time, Republican lawmakers denounced the use of the measure asserting legislators and the press corps did not have enough time to review the legislation before voting on it. Good government groups – including Citizens Union and New York Public Interest Research Group – asserted Cuomo used the message of necessity tool “too readily” in an open letter.
Aside from potential messages of necessity, another issue raised in the current budget process is the inclusion of policy. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has openly expressed his opposition to including policy issues in the state budget while asserting those measures should be negotiated separately. However, several controversial policy issues – including bail reform rollbacks and housing proposals – stymied progress in the early days of the budget negotiation process.
Ahead of the upcoming budget extender deadline on Friday, the governor and legislative leaders have indicated progress has been made on budget negotiations and hope to come to a final agreement soon. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli wrote a letter to the governor with a deadline of noon on Tuesday for the Legislature to pass a sixth budget extender to avoid a disruption of pay for state workers.