As we all know, the last few weeks have been anything but “usual”. For New Yorkers, our lives seemed to change daily. What started with an emergency being declared state-wide quickly transpired to the closure of businesses and schools and the eventual adoption of the PAUSE Act, requiring all non-essential employees to stay at home, practice social distancing and take all precautions necessary to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community from the coronavirus.
The impact of COVID-19 affected the legislature and the annual budget process heavily. The Capitol closed to the public, forcing grassroots and professional advocates alike to work behind their screens instead of “off the floor”. The Senate and Assembly forewent the historical introduction of “one-house” proposals. And with a continuing number of positive cases across the state (including several members of the legislature), the houses adopted policies and procedures to allow elected officials to participate in meetings and the voting process from their districts instead of the chamber. Most importantly, the $6B deficit the legislature was forced to maneuver around in January, snowballed with expenditures to support the ongoing health crisis.
For FY2020-21 the following allocations were made:
- State Library Aid: $94.1M
- Library Construction Aid: $14M
It is important to note, the Governor, in partnership with the Department of Budget, will be reviewing the State’s revenue and expenditures throughout the year (three periods). If deemed necessary, budget adjustments will be made.
As for the remainder of the session calendar, that remains unknown. While the Governor was quick to dismiss the body and their ability to act due to the pandemic, both the Senate and Assembly have stated they are ready, able and willing to report, be it in person or virtually, at the call of their leaders. With so many officials retiring at the end of the year, special elections and the primary occurring soon– one can only imagine the lengthy “wish list” that each house has for the final weeks of the 2020 session.
I may have said this Legislative Session was going to be interesting back in December, but I certainly could not have forecasted this.