Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Lawmakers put finishing touches on state budget

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Albany/HV: Lawmakers put finishing touches on state budget
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ALBANY, N.Y. — With time to spare before the midnight deadline, the state Senate and Assembly signed off on a $138 billion budget.

State lawmakers say it has something for everyone.

"I think there are a lot of good features with this budget. There are things I'd rather not see with this budget, but on balance I think it's a great budget," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-New York.

The budget includes more than $1 billion in added education aid for the coming fiscal year, including changes to Common Core implementation as well as $340 million in new funding for Pre-K programs statewide, but Assembly Democrats aren't as pleased with added protections for New York City charter schools.

"No, I'm not happy with the compromise, but again there are other good pieces the city is getting, including the pre-K money," Silver said.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are touting a $1.5 billion property tax rebate program that also encourages local governments to cap taxes, share services and cut costs.

"I think there are some positive steps going but we want to encourage them to look for efficiencies within their school district, their municipality," said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos.

Battle lines are already forming for the post-budget legislative session. Advocates for public financing are unhappy with the compromise in the budget that only creates the program for the state comptroller's race. IDC leader Jeff Klein now plans to push a broader public financing package that could phase the program in through 2020.

"We waited a long time. This is a very important issue, and now is the time to make sure we have real campaign finance reform with a public match," Klein said.

In order to speed the budget process along, Governor Cuomo issued what are called messages of necessity to speed up the aging of two bills that were introduced on Saturday morning. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP