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State leaders claim victory with fourth consecutive on-time budget

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Albany/HV: State leaders claim victory with fourth consecutive on-time budget
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- The vote came down to the wire. In the Assembly, the debate on the budget began in the morning and ended just 45 minutes before midnight. It was emblematic of just how difficult this budget negotiation was.

"So you had probably more hot-button political issues that arose in the course of the budget negotiation, so that made it more difficult," said Governor Andrew Cuomo

The hot-button issues included universal pre-K for New York City, a priority for Mayor Bill de Blasio, and protections for charter schools, which the mayor did not want.

Insiders say that behind the scenes, there was a real push-and-pull between the governor's office and City Hall over these two issues.

The budget also left out some priorities of New York City Assembly Democrats, including college financial aid for illegal immigrants.

"I am disappointed that this agreement could not include an agreement on the DREAM Act," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "We will continue to work for its enactment."

Lawmakers also failed to enact comprehensive campaign finance reform. State Senate co-leader Jeff Klein fought behind the scenes until the bitter end to have it included.

"We accomplished a first step, but I don't believe we're done yet," Klein said. "I believe that we need to be committed to passing a more comprehensive campaign finance system before the close of the legislative session."

Despite the high drama in the state Capitol, the budget did pass before the deadline, giving New York State its fourth consecutive on-time budget, something the governor was aiming for in his re-election year.

"What's in the budget is more important than when it gets done," said Rob Astorino, a candidate for governor. "Woohoo! You got the budget done on time. Well, that's what you're supposed to do. I would have rather waited a week to actually change things in this budget."

Once chronically late, Cuomo has made on-time budgets a hallmark of his administration. It is the first time that there have been four consecutive on-time budgets since the days of Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

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