Bail reform, Bills stadium funding still under discussion as hope for on-time budget diminishes | WHEC.com

Bail reform, Bills stadium funding still under discussion as hope for on-time budget diminishes

WHECTV
Updated: March 31, 2022 05:47 PM
Created: March 31, 2022 03:07 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (WHEC) — The New York State Senate and Assembly Thursday afternoon adjourned without a budget, diminishing hope that the budget will be passed on time.

Sen. Jeremey Cooney (D, 56) said the two key issues include changes to bail reform and the $600 million in funding from taxpayers statewide that would go toward building a new football stadium for the Buffalo Bills.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin authored an op-ed in The New York Daily News detailing their plans for changing the state's bail reform policy. Critics have blamed it for causing the spike in crime, whereas advocates have said they believe bail unfairly punishes low-income people.

The proposed changes to the policy would make repeat offenders or those who are out of custody when they are accused of committing a crime subject to bail and expand the number of crimes that are bail eligible, including more crimes involving the illegal possession or use of guns.

The new Buffalo Bills stadium would be built across the street from the existing one in Orchard Park. A state study in November pegged renovation costs at $862 million.

Under the deal announced Monday, $600 million for the project would be added to the budget and Erie County would contribute another $250 million. The projected price tag of the project is $1.35 billion according to Gov. Kathy Hochul's Office.

The Seneca Nation has said it's unhappy with the proposal as well, because it involves using money from its casinos to pay for the stadium.

In a video on Facebook, Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels said, "in one breath, New York's hostile and shameless greed was laid for the world to see."

The Seneca Nation paid New York State the money it owed as part of a gaming compact dispute this week.

Hochul said Tuesday the $418 million the state received from the payment will go toward the stadium to help reduce how much state taxpayers have to contribute toward it.

The budget is due at midnight, but many lawmakers are speaking out saying they don't believe that deadline will be met.

Hochul released a statement Thursday evening that made no mention as to whether the budget would be on time or late:

"This is a critical time in New York's economic recovery, and I am committed to ensuring that our state budget reflects New Yorkers' priorities and tackles the top issues we are facing. From improving public safety to supporting small businesses, these are important and complex issues, and we need to get them right. 

"I am continuing to have productive conversations with Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie and I appreciate their collaboration and good faith approach to these negotiations. We are getting closer to agreement, with consensus on major policy items.   

"New Yorkers should know that progress is being made and that we will put in the time it takes to reach an agreement that delivers for them and moves our state forward."

Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay (120) released the following statement:

“The people of New York expect and deserve an on-time budget. It’s a simple, straightforward requirement of state government. Unfortunately, Gov. Hochul and her Democrat colleagues in the Legislature have proven they are unable to meet that very basic expectation, and as a result the multi-billion dollar spending plan that impacts every facet of operations in New York is in limbo. Another year of Democrats’ dysfunction has resulted in little more than needless gridlock. Leaving Albany on March 31 without an agreement is embarrassing.”

State Sen. Samra Brouk (D, 55) released the following statement:

“As negotiations continue on the New York State Budget, I am focused on representing hardworking Rochester families and bringing home critical funding for education, health and child care, and infrastructure. These investments would set up our region for future success, providing both the resources our families need to thrive and energizing our small business economy.

“As Chair of the Senate Mental Health Committee, I am also working to reverse nearly a decade of disinvestment and secure historic funding for mental health care to bring inpatient beds back online, to fairly compensate our mental health care workforce and to establish the new 9-8-8 mental health and substance abuse lifeline so that those in need of crisis services receive compassionate, treatment-forward care.”


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