Five things to know: The New York State budget fight, and how it affects WNY

Posted at 10:57 AM, Apr 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-05 12:35:00-04

There's a two-month stopgap spending plan in place, but the extension only extends the fight in Albany over a long-term budget.

Here are five things to know about Albany's budget battle:


1. The current extension fully funds the "Buffalo Billion II"

Although it's really the Buffalo half-billion in this instance, part of the emergency measures passed Monday includes $400 million for the second phase of the so-called "Buffalo Billion." The other $100 million promised by lawmakers comes from various other bills.

Phase II includes such projects as "East Side Revitalization," expansion of recreational opportunities along the Outer Harbor, and extending the light rail at Canalside, among a host of other initiatives.

Another Buffalo-related item in the extender: According to the Buffalo News, a $768,000 payment to the Buffalo Bills, as part of a deal to keep the team in Western New York


2. Schools are big losers in the extension

It's not that schools lose money -- their funding is frozen at last year's levels. But it's the uncertainty about next year. Schools tend to pass their budgets for the next school year in May, and right now they're left to essentially guess how much state-funding they'll get next year. With many area schools already struggling financially, it's another hoop they're forced to jump through.


3. Upstate Ride-sharing is missing from the extender

It's unclear why, after an agreement was seemingly made last week, why ride-sharing is missing from the two-month extender, but it is. It might have to do with lawmakers passing a 1,535 page bill they received just hours before. Whatever the reason, it's still possible that ride-sharing could be passed, but it's a longer wait for a decision for Western New Yorkers.


4. Non-budget issues are helping hold up the budget

It's not all a battle of dollars and cents. According to the New York Times, much of the debate is centered around policy proposals in the bill, including raising the age of criminal responsibility (which would send more 16- and 17-year-olds to family court, not a criminal court) and a tax-cut program that encourages developers to build housing. Both those proposals were introduced not by state legislators, but by Governor Cuomo.


5. Lawmakers don't get paid until they pass a long-term budget

It's an incentive to pass something sooner rather than later. The two-month extension runs through May 31, but this is meant to entice a long-term solution well before the deadline.

Having a budget passed after May 31st isn't unprecedented; It's happened three times since 2000. If there's still no agreement by the end of May this year, it's entirely possible you could see another short-term extension extending past the 31st. The alternative: a likely partial government shutdown.