NY Senate grumbles about Assembly, passes three bills

ALBANY — State senators marked Palm Sunday with a rare afternoon session to consider parts of the state’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 counterparts’ absence.

“Why are we even here?” One senator asked.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican who chairs the chamber’s Finance Committee, said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was “impolite” for abruptly moving his session to Thursday.

“It was sort of deciding he makes the decision unilaterally and I think that doesn’t bode well for bipartisan good discussions in the negotiations,” 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. “Whatever the Assembly wants to do, that’s their business,” he added. “They don’t run the Senate.”

A Silver spokesman said, “We’re still negotiating the budget.” 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 state’s tax policy had not yet been finalized.

People familiar with the negotiations said the district-by-district breakdown of education aid — a perennial sticking point — 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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