ALBANY –- It’s official. The budget bill passage -- well, introduction process -- has begun. Three budget bills have been delivered to all lawmakers’ desk in the Senate and Assembly to begin the three-day “aging’’ process with hopes of a final, enacted budget by Thursday or so.
The Assembly versions of the three bills introduced before midnight last night are: A9055-D, A9058-D and A9060-C.
The first bill covers the area of the budget involving public protection and general government. The second covers transportation, economic development and environmental conservation. And the third permits some state agency mergers to go ahead, including creating a single entity to regulate all forms of gambling in the state.
Still to come are the specifics for K-12 education spending, higher education, public assistance, mental hygiene and the revenue bill.
The three-day aging process is a bit unusual for the budget, even though it is mandated by the constitution. But the governor and Legislature were stung after last week’s rather blatant, middle-of-the-night deals over several big policy bills, including the pension change measure.
So, welcome transparency. We’ll see how long it lasts. (One clue to look for this week: do they give three days to age the school “runs’’ that determine the precise state aid breakdowns for all 700 school districts? That’s the document lawmakers typically are given just minutes before they pass the education funding bill).
UPDATE: If you prefer to look at the same bills, but the Senate versions, here you go: S6255D, S6258D, and S6260C.
-- Tom Precious