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Morning Spew

YUM! Albany’s Cookin’ Up Some ‘Cynical and Disgusting’ Sausage

Some non-budgetary budget snags and more links to start your day.

9:39 AM EDT on April 13, 2023

Albany, New York, August 10, 1985

Albany, New York, August 10, 1985 (Kent Kanouse / Flickr)

New York state's budget negotiations will stretch into the third week past the April 1 deadline because Governor Kathy Hochul isn't budging: She still really wants legislators to make it easier for people accused of crimes to be held in jail.

Not only is Hochul trying to eliminate the legal requirement that judges impose the "least restrictive" measures possible when holding someone before trial—a protection that many attorneys and advocates say is baked into New York's state constitution—but she also wants changes to discovery reforms to give prosecutors more time and keep defendants in jail a little longer. 

What do either of these measures have to do with the actual fiscal responsibilities the state has? Nothing, except the governor is doing what New York governors have always done, which is hold the budget process hostage to push through a raft of unrelated law-sausage (for more on this phenomena, listen to episode four of the Hell Gate Podcast). 

All state lawmakers must play this game, and progressives have their own list of must-pass policy proposals. On Wednesday, a group of state lawmakers, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, gathered in "the people's republic of Astoria" to rally behind their top three priorities: Good Cause Eviction, the Build Public Renewables Act, and preventing Hochul from getting what she wants on criminal justice reform rollbacks. 

"This is a civil rights and civil liberties issue," Ocasio-Cortez told the crowd, calling Rikers Island and its surging population "one of the gravest human rights crisis sites in the United States of America."

Hell Gate caught up with Brooklyn State Senator Julia Salazar after the rally, who said she was "feeling very optimistic" about Good Cause Eviction, but that the fight over criminal justice reforms continues to dominate the negotiations. 

"The budget, altogether, it truly is being held up by conversations about bail, and now also amending the discovery statute," Salazar said. "Conversations that I don't think should be happening at all in the budget process."

Salazar said that for the most part, "legislative leaders have been holding the line" on resisting Hochul's demands, but added that until the state constitution is actually changed, the executive branch will still be able to wield immense power over state lawmakers during the budget process, a dynamic that she called "cynical and disgusting."

"The governor uses that dynamic, takes advantage of that to cram through things that the legislature otherwise would not pass," Salazar said. "It's changes to discovery statute, funding a new stadium for the Bills, funding a new race track, these are things that are not popular. She added, "Working people are not demanding these things, New Yorkers don't want these things. But because of the dynamic of the budget process, these things are being rammed through."

More links for your steamy Thursday:

And finally, the Rutgers strike continues and people are feeling good:

(Photo courtesy of Kent Kanouse / Flickr.)

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