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Morning Spew

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (a State Budget)

And other links to start your day.

9:38 AM EDT on April 6, 2023

(Hell Gate)

Governor Kathy Hochul has already blown one deadline for delivering a state budget and is now talking about maybe extending the timeline even further, as the current extension only runs through Monday. "We'll be able to pick up again in earnest after the holidays," she said on Wednesday.

By all accounts, what's keeping Hochul from getting a budget passed is her dogged insistence on lumping a whole mess of terrible policy initiatives that are completely unrelated to the state budget into her negotiations with legislators. She tried to sneak through a giant giveaway to the fossil fuel industry via gutting New York's landmark climate change law, only to reverse herself when word got out and everyone who thinks living comfortably on planet Earth is more important than petro profits got very mad about it.

Now the primary sticking point remains what it has been throughout this process: The governor's insistence on using must-pass budget legislation to completely overturn longstanding New York law, centuries-old constitutional principles, and common sense to give judges a virtual blank check to lock up people who come before them, even before they've had a trial before a jury of their peers. 

Last week, when legislators told Hochul they just wanted to talk about the budget, not her plans for a return to the politics of mass incarceration, her team walked out of the room. We still don't have a budget, and it is in large part because the governor won't let go of her bail demands.

Hochul is hardly the first governor to try to ram incredibly ill-advised and destructive policy demands through our opaque and unaccountable budget process. But unlike her predecessor at the height of his awful powers, it's not at all clear that she actually has the juice to strong-arm lawmakers into doing her bidding: Witness her extremely self-inflicted defeat trying to seat a judicial nominee who she had been repeatedly told would not pass muster.

Here's an idea: What if our governor eased off the backroom skullduggery, which she doesn't seem to be very good at anyway, and just focused on passing a budget to fund the vital services of our state government? Then, if she's really confident in the popularity of some of the more exotic parts of her agenda, she can work with the legislature to pass them through a normal legislative process, complete with open hearings where their merits can be debated and evaluated. This is how they do it in some places. We could try it!

Anyway, here are some more links to start your day:

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