By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- The so-called Article VII budget bill dealing with public protection and general government has gone to the legislative print shop, a sign of progress after a week of on-again, off-again movement.
Under one plan, lawmakers are being told to be available late Saturday afternoon to begin passing budget bills, and then coming in later in the day Sunday. [That leaves at least part of Monday for some last-minute action before Passover starts at sundown.]
-- Senate has so far killed funding for Dream Act, giving financial aid to children of illegal immigrants.
-- A major infusion of unrestricted aid to cities and villages is on life support.
-- Relaxing of marijuana possession laws will apply to New York City only.
-- Unions believe they have beaten back statewide plan to let state education commissioner impose evaluation plans if teachers and districts cannot agree on teacher evaluation systems.
-- Negotiators think they have restored $30 million of $120 million cut to programs for developmentally disabled. Feds will kick in another $30 million, so $60 million of $240 million cut proposed by Cuomo to be restored. However, there is suddenly a new pot of $300 million in federal money, some of which may be dipped into to make more restorations. A fed/state working group will be formed to work out the funding issues.