24 hours in Albany?

Last updated on April 12, 2024

With help from Shawn Ness

New from New York

Happening now:

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul may consider shorter extenders.
  • A new parks attendance record thanks to the eclipse.
  • Some advocates slept in the War Room.
  • The Hochuls’ income in 2023 is out.

DAYS THE BUDGET IS LATE: 12

The state's budget is nearly three weeks late, and a stopgap spending bill could keep lawmakers in Albany. But there is no indication Gov. Kathy Hochul will actually do it yet.

The state budget is stretching into its third week of tardiness. But there are ways the process can potentially move along: A stopgap spending bill that expires after 24 hours that could keep lawmakers in Albany and negotiating.

There’s no indication Hochul is on the verge of doing so after the current budget extender expires on Monday, and lawmakers have insisted they can reach a deal in the coming days.

Still, the idea has been at least discussed in the governor’s office, a person familiar with the conversations said.

The 24-hour tactic would be a change from Hochul’s current approach of sending budget extender bills that keep the state government funded largely timed to meeting state worker payroll each week.

Some lawmakers weren’t thrilled with the prospect — underscoring how a daily deadline could be seen as a provocative escalation in the delicate budget negotiations.

“It’s a public relations tactic that the governor should be above using,” Manhattan Democratic Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell said.

Nevertheless, some Democrats and Republicans believe such a move could help hasten the process, which has turned into a slog amid an impasse over housing policy.

“From my perspective, it’s time to get this budget done,” Hudson Valley Democratic Assemblymember Ken Zebrowski said. “Whatever moves this along, fine by me.”

Long Island Republican Assemblymember Ed Ra believes sending 24-hour extensions of spending could be an effective use of the governor’s considerable power over the budget process.

“It’s going to keep the members [in Albany], and it’s going to keep the discussion going and it’s hopefully going to move us to a conclusion,” he said.

And Bronx Assemblymember Kenny Burgos was also open to the idea: “If it’s a method which gets us to an agreeable situation, then it’s fine by me.”

Governors have leverage over lawmakers in the budget process.

In 2017, with a budget undone and a deadline about to be missed, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent the Legislature a temporary spending plan that kept the state government funded for two months.

The strategy was meant to turn up the heat on lawmakers, who are not paid until a state budget is finalized. Lawmakers ultimately reached a deal days later.

New York’s top elected officials remain at odds over the details of a sweeping housing plan, which hit snags this week as dozens of Democrats in the Legislature vowed to vote down any budget that weakens tenant protections approved in 2019.

The deadlock has led to the third blown budget deadline in the last three years.

It was a discordant week at the state Capitol, with the state Senate and Assembly approving the fourth budget extension since the missed April 1 deadline on separate days while closed-door meetings between the governor and top lawmakers were held.

The state Assembly put the finishing touches on the extension measure this afternoon. With Hochul’s signature, the state government is funded until Monday.

There was a relaxed atmosphere in the Assembly chamber this afternoon as lawmakers were preparing to approve the extension bill. Some lawmakers brought their children to the chamber while others talked about their weekend plans.

For now, lawmakers have not been told definitively whether to remain in town for the weekend. Nick Reisman and Jason Beeferman

Older adults and disabled New Yorkers protested outside of Gov. Kathy Hochul's office after spending the night in the War Room.

WAR ROOM RALLY: After older adults and disabled New Yorkers spent a long night sleeping in the Capitol’s War Room, they gathered outside Hochul’s office today to protest a budget proposal to enlist a single company to handle payroll and other administrative tasks for New Yorkers who hire their own home care aides.

The New York Caring Majority, a coalition of health care advocacy groups, claim the proposal to replace hundreds of fiscal intermediaries — most of which are run by licensed home care agencies — with a single vendor under a no-bid contract would limit care options and delay payments to aides.

The consolidation is intended to reduce Medicaid spending under the consumer-directed personal assistance program, or CDPAP, which has ballooned from $6 billion in state and federal spending in 2021 to $9 billion in 2023.

“We are calling on Governor Hochul, the Assembly and Senate to work with the disability community to develop sensible and measured reforms to CDPAP in this year’s budget that target the real problems in the system and maintain the integrity of this invaluable program,” Lindsay Miller, executive director of the New York Association for Independent Living, said in a statement. — Shawn Ness and Maya Kaufman

THE FIRST FAMILY’S PAY: The Hochul family’s income soared to $1.9 million in 2023, thanks to $1.5 million First Gentleman William Hochul made from Delaware North.

William left the Buffalo-based hospitality company in August. But his pay more than doubled from the year prior — thanks to “a series of bonuses and other compensation” he received upon his departure.

While Hochul had been with the firm since 2016 and the governor set limits on her involvement in issues that impact its business, his role was widely scrutinized as the state got involved with issues like funding for a new Buffalo Bills stadium. He has been working at Manhattan law firm Davis Polk since January.

The governor made $250,000 from the state, a salary that’s set in law. — Bill Mahoney

MORE TIME: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor this week granted former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin’s request for more time, reserving his right to appeal his federal bribery case to the highest court in the land.

The Harlem Democrat’s team is hoping the court uses his case to clarify government corruption under the law, but as Playbook reported Thursday, they want to wait to file until the court rules on another similar case. — Jeff Coltin

Mayor Eric Adams went on PIX 11 this morning to defend his new policy that would require elected officials to obtain approval from City Hall before meeting with high-level agency staff and commissioners.

FORM-GATE LATEST: The mayor hit the airwaves this morning to defend a new policy requiring elected officials to obtain approval from City Hall’s intergovernmental affairs team before meeting with commissioners or high-level staff at agencies.

“We need to make sure that we’re not being duplicative, and [make] sure that if there are other electeds in that area that want the same issue addressed, we bring everyone together,” Adams said on PIX 11.

Yet the new mandate — which applies to members of Congress, the attorney general and even the governor’s office — has been received poorly.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams sent a letter to the mayor’s office today saying he would be ignoring the new procedure.

“This policy as designed will stymie vital interaction between government partners — preventing public service on behalf of New Yorkers in order to service a seeming need of this administration to exert further control over all government operations,” he wrote.

The form has also caused a multi-day dustup with members of the City Council at a time when the mayor needs them to approve a major administration initiative several months down the road.

On Thursday, the mayor introduced a sweeping land-use policy that would increase development across the city — a complex initiative that will require heaps of political capital to win over Council members ahead of a final vote.

Not only does irking members with additional bureaucratic barriers sap some of that capital, but the rollout reflects poorly on the administration’s ability to navigate the 51-member body.

The Council speaker — who has instructed her members to ignore the edict — said Thursday she was never told about the new protocol by the mayor’s team. (She learned about it from Playbook’s own Jeff Coltin.)

This morning, the mayor explained that faux pas by saying the policy had not actually been put in place and was leaked prematurely.

Yet by the time Adrienne Adams learned of the fiat, multiple members had already been directed to fill out the form after contacting city agencies.

“It is certainly not the way to get stuff done for people in the city of New York,” the Council speaker said Thursday. — Joe Anuta

SETTLEMENT STEPS: Implementing the terms of the right-to-shelter settlement will take time, but the city is making progress in its agreement with homeless advocates, a top Adams aide told reporters today.

As part of the stipulation, the so-called waiting rooms where migrants dozed on the floor or sitting up while they waited days and weeks in anticipation of their next shelter assignment have to close. One has closed, two remain open, Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said.

And the administration is also working on notices for migrants who may not receive additional stays in city shelters unless they prove “extenuating circumstances” — another part of the settlement — as well as training staff and creating a resource guide, she said.

“The system’s not going to turn over right away,” Williams-Isom said. “It’s going to take us a couple of days, a couple of weeks to make sure that we get that right.” — Emily Ngo

Gov. Kathy Hochul said that a record number of tourists came to the state to view the eclipse. New York saw nearly one million people visit between April 6-9.

TOURISM RECORD ECLIPSED: Nearly one million people visited New York state parks from Saturday to Tuesday — a record for that stretch — and state campgrounds entirely booked for the night of the eclipse.

The state’s transportation department also saw a significant increase in vehicle traffic, and electric vehicles charged up for about twice as many miles as they did the week before.

Hochul was one of 45,000 visitors to see the eclipse at Niagara Falls State Park, but there was one notable absence in the park: Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a self-described astronomy enthusiast, fled to the clearer skies of Ashtabula, Ohio for the event. Jason Beeferman

OH, RATS: New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is warning of a continued increase in cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection primarily associated with rat urine, according to an advisory sent today to health care providers.

Six cases have been reported so far this year, and 24 people were diagnosed with the disease in 2023 — more than the total number of cases reported to the Health Department in any prior year.

The city saw an average of just three cases annually between 2001 and 2020. The number has since continued to trend upwards, with most locally acquired cases reported in warmer and wetter months when the bacteria that cause the infection can more easily survive.

Symptoms may include fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea and jaundice, the department’s advisory states. If not treated, the disease can lead to kidney failure, meningitis and liver damage. There have been six deaths among the 98 locally acquired cases of leptospirosis reported in the city from 2001 to 2023. Maya Kaufman

DECEPTIVE ADS: Attorney General Tish James announced that her office secured over $1 million in penalties and refunds from Northwell Health, the state’s largest healthcare provider.

The company misled New Yorkers by billing residents for emergency room visits when all they had received was Covid-19 test kits, she said.

“During a time of great stress at the height of the pandemic, Northwell Health caused more worry and frustration for New Yorkers who were sent emergency room bills for simply taking a Covid-19 test,” James said in a statement.

Northwell owes more than $400,000 in refunds to about 2,000 patients, as well as $650,000 in penalties to the state.

“Northwell has cooperated fully with the Office of the New York State Attorney General throughout this investigation and voluntarily entered an agreement to settle the matter without admitting to any wrongdoing,” according to a statement from Barbara Osborn, Northwell’s vice president of public relations.

The statement also said that they voluntarily refunded patients who went to the testing sites and made out-of-pocket payments, totaling nearly $82,000.

The investigation was launched after James’ office received complaints that they had received emergency room bills after getting a Covid test. The investigation found that three separate locations posted signs in March of 2020 and 2021 for testing sites. — Shawn Ness

City schools are urging superintendents to fight for mayoral control. (POLITICO Pro)

— A homeless man stole a FDNY fireboat, but he didn’t know how to start the engine. Instead he simply floated down the Hudson River. (Daily News)

— Michael Cohen talked about Donald Trump’s hush money case ahead of the trial starting Monday. (POLITICO)