Hochul announces April 10 budget extender

As they continue negotiating beyond the April 1 deadline, lawmakers have indicated there will be no agreement before the Passover and Easter holidays.

Gov. Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

After blowing past the April 1 deadline to approve a new state budget, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday proposed to extend the existing state budget plan until April 10 to keep the government up and running as she and legislative leaders continue to debate the details of a final deal.

Lawmakers returned to Albany on what was meant to be the first day of their scheduled break to pass the week-long extender to ensure that state workers still get paid. Monday was the last day to do so before paychecks would get delayed for thousands of people on the state payroll. It gives Hochul, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie extra breathing room to settle outstanding negotiations on major issues like bail reform and housing.

In a statement announcing the extender, Hochul said that New Yorkers are deeply concerned about public safety, housing and schools. “I have been negotiating in good faith with the legislature, but it is clear there is more work to be done before we reach an agreement,” Hochul said. She said the extender would provide “the time we need to deliver a final budget that is responsive to the urgent needs of New Yorkers. Soon after, Stewart-Cousins said in a statement that she was “disappointed” that they couldn’t reach a deal for a timely budget, and confirmed her chamber would approve the emergency spending bill. “We look forward to concluding our budget process and having a budget that represents the values of all New Yorkers,” Stewart-Cousins said.

Much like last year, when the state budget was nine days late, proposed rollbacks to New York’s 2019 bail reform law have sucked up most of the air in three-way talks between state leaders. The negotiations are held in private, and even rank-and-file members of the state Legislature are often completely in the dark. Last week, Heastie told reporters that aside from the issue of bail and the governor’s housing agenda, no other topic had received any meaningful discussion. Earlier that same week, Hochul’s staff dug in on the issue behind closed doors.

Hochul proposed removing the “least restrictive means” standard judges currently must follow when determining whether – and how much – to set bail for offenses that qualify. The standard was included as part of the 2019 reforms to emphasize pretrial freedom, but Hochul said removing the language would create greater judicial clarity. Criminal justice reform advocates and legal experts argued that the governor’s proposal would go further than she has publicly indicated, fundamentally changing the long-standing meaning of bail in New York.

Stewart-Cousins and Heastie have consistently opposed rolling back the 2019 reforms, but have both previously agreed to changes in 2020 and again last year. This year, they have not publicly ruled out finding a compromise with the governor on her proposal, and expressed support for the idea of providing judges with more clarity in instances they can set bail. But rank-and-file members have called on their leaders not to cede any ground.

The newly proposed extender, which lawmakers were expected to approve Monday afternoon, comes shortly before the start of Passover the night of April 5 and Easter on April 9. The length of the extender indicates that the governor is either not pushing for or not expecting a final deal to occur before the holidays. If she and legislative leaders don’t come to an agreement before April 10, lawmakers will likely need to return again to pass another short-term extender to keep up with the state payroll.  

Extenders used to be common practice in New York when the budget would be delayed for months rather than days. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo campaigned in 2010 on passing on time budgets, and for the most part delivered on the promise. But the use of extenders came back in 2017. The state utilized the emergency appropriations again in 2021, when the budget was nearly a week late, and last year, when Hochul oversaw the latest budget in over a decade.