As state budget negotiations head into the final two weeks, the Assembly has tentatively approved the Judiciary’s entire request while the Senate recommended a $9 million cut.
The one-house budget bills passed last week are really little more than preliminary position papers that define the point at which each house is beginning negotiations with the other chamber and the governor.
So far, the Senate is supporting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position that the Judiciary budget needs trimming, and the Assembly is not. The significance is unclear as the most serious negotiations have yet to take place, and advocates for the courts are likely to step up their efforts between now and April 1, when the state fiscal year begins.
Cuomo wants the Third Branch to limit its budget increase to 2 percent rather than the 2.5 percent sought by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (See Profile) and Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti (See Profile) to begin the “road to recovery” after years of flat budgets. That would require cutting $9 million from the $1.81 billion proposal.
Also apparently at issue in budget discussions is the spending proposal submitted by the Commission on Judicial Conduct. The watchdog agency, whose budget has been frozen at $5.38 million for the past few years, is seeking a $270,000 increase.
Cuomo’s budget division and the Assembly recommended another flat budget, but the Senate proposal includes the extra funding requested by Robert Tembeckjian, counsel and administrator to the agency.