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New York budget sees another delay over housing proposal negotiations

Another delay to New York's overdue state budget is anticipated as negotiations over an ambitious housing construction proposal continue.

New York's state budget is poised for another delay as backroom negotiations over a sweeping proposal to drive new housing construction continue to hold up the spending plan.

Lawmakers in the state Senate passed a stopgap bill Thursday that will keep government funded and extend the budget deadline until April 15. The Assembly is expected to approve the measure on Friday, sending it to the office of Gov. Kathy Hochul for a signature.

The budget has been delayed a handful of times this year as Hochul and the Democratic leaders of the Legislature work through dozens of competing demands in private talks.

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Housing has emerged as the major stumbling block in budget negotiations, with top officials trying to balance the demands of developers, tenants and labor to reach an agreement that will lead to more housing units.

A deal is expected to include a tax break for developers to spur construction, a wage agreement for laborers and protections for tenants against some rent increases and evictions, among other things, though the specifics remain unclear.

Hochul, a Democrat, has made increasing the housing stock a top priority.

Last year, she was unable to push through a plan to create 800,000 new homes in the state after pushback from suburban lawmakers axed the proposal. Now, the governor is pushing to use commercial properties and state lands for more housing, and a tax incentive for developers to include affordable housing in new buildings.

"I can’t force the private sector to build," Hochul told reporters last week at the Capitol. "They will not do it if the conditions are not right for them. So, I have to look at that factor."

Hochul also said she open to some kind of tenant protection proposal, which is key for the leaders of the Assembly and Senate.

"We want to be able to build, and we want to be able to protect tenants," said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat.

Hochul's plan to shift how the state doles out money to school districts — which would have resulted in some schools getting less money — had also been a point of contention at the bargaining table and among school administrators. The governor told reporters last week she was backing off the proposal and would instead revisit it next year.

Legislative leaders are also still pushing back against the governor's effort to increase criminal penalties for assaulting retail workers, an initiative that is part of her wider strategy to address criminal justice concerns in the state.

And there are ongoing negotiations over how officials can better crack down on unlicensed marijuana shops, which have become ubiquitous in New York City as bureaucratic hurdles and lawsuits have stalled the legal market. Hochul last month ordered a comprehensive review of the state agency that regulates legal marijuana in New York.

The budget, which was originally due April 1, is expected to top $230 billion.

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