The state Senate passed several bills Monday, but none of them had anything to do with the budget.
“There were no budget bills ready to pass today,” Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said Monday. “So we did about a dozen regular bills to keep up with the calendar. We are allowing people to go home for the religious holiday. And then tomorrow at 5:00, we’ll come back and have respective conferences and then go into session tomorrow evening.
“The plan is to go past midnight and pass bills into the morning, so we could hopefully be done by 2 or 3 a.m.,” he continued. “And then the budget would be complete—early and on time.”
The last budget bills were printed late Sunday, allowing lawmakers to vote Wednesday without using a “message of necessity” to skip the mandatory three-day waiting period. The $135 billion budget for 2013-14 must be approved by April 1, when the new fiscal year begins.
The Jewish holiday of Passover starts tonight and extends through Wednesday. A planned spring break to accommodate the religious holiday and the Christian celebrations leading up to Easter, which is March 31, began Friday, but the Senate stayed in Albany.
Some senators knocked the Assembly on Sunday for not returning, but Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, has called his conference back Thursday. The Assembly plans to pass all of the bills then in a marathon session.
Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, said Monday that allowing for the three-day waiting period for budget bills enhances transparency.
“They need time to age, which is good, because it gives the public time to look into the bills, look into the legislation, to see how they’re going to be affected,” Ball said. “The governor’s not doing the messages of necessity—he’s been attacked previously for doing that. So, we’ll do our legislative work and vote on it once they’ve had time to age and there’s been public input.”