Updated 04/03/2008 09:29 PM
Budget talks drag on
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The budget process is slow. Those are the words of Senator William T. Stachowski from Buffalo and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli for Syracuse.
The Public Protection Bills were just passed, both health bills are in but lawmakers are still working on school aid and revenue among other spending issues.
Very few details are coming out about each bill. The whole budget process is reminiscent of the old Albany style of business which is a big bone of contention for government watchdog groups.
"In the last few years the process has become more closed, with this year really being a throwback to the way budgets were done many years ago where it was pretty much three men in a room hammering it out,” said Blair Horner with New York’s Public Interest Research Group.
A process that makes it hard for the public to weigh in on negotiations, and even legislators are unhappy with it.
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"It's made it more difficult, and I think this year it's back to the secrecy and three men in a room, it has not been pleasant,” said Stachowski.
"I've seen in the last couple of years, much more transparency, maybe not as much as we'd like here as legislators, but a lot more than we've had this year," Magnarelli said.
Congestion pricing, a bill aiming to lessen traffic in Manhattan while taxing city drivers, is holding up the process according to some. But others said it's just normal budget negotiations.
"Upstate's being held hostage by the assembly democrats for more spending knowing full well that the pressure is on us by the upstate regions to have budgets on a timely basis," said
Elmira area Senator George Winner.
"There have been some problems with language, there are some technical difficulties. And when you're dealing with three different staffs that have to work together that have been thrown together very quickly because of the events of the last few weeks, it takes time,” said Magnarelli.