ALBANY â€” State senators marked Palm Sunday with a rare afternoon session to consider parts of the stateâ€™s $135.1 billion budget.
But several large parts of the spending plan, due by April 1, remained unfinished, a fact that prompted members of the Democrat-dominated Assembly to postpone a planned Sunday afternoon session until Thursday. The Senate passed three bills Sunday afternoon as members grumbled about their counterpartsâ€™ absence.
â€œWhy are we even here?â€ One senator asked.
Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican who chairs the chamberâ€™s Finance Committee, said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was â€œimpoliteâ€ for abruptly moving his session to Thursday.
â€œIt was sort of deciding he makes the decision unilaterally and I think that doesnâ€™t bode well for bipartisan good discussions in the negotiations,â€ he said.
Deputy Republican Leader Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, echoed his frustrations, but said the Senate was passing bills to ensure an on-time budget. â€œWhatever the Assembly wants to do, thatâ€™s their business,â€ he added. â€œThey donâ€™t run the Senate.â€
A Silver spokesman said, â€œWeâ€™re still negotiating the budget.â€ Indeed, as of press time, bills that dictate aid to school districts and localities, funding for care of the developmentally disabled as well as the stateâ€™s tax policy had not yet been finalized.
People familiar with the negotiations said the district-by-district breakdown of education aid â€” a perennial sticking point â€” was largely settled. Lawmakers quietly feuded over how big a role legislators would play in controlling the flow of economic development dollars, as well as efforts to plug a $120 million cut to care for the developmentally disabled.
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