LI lawmakers: Budget deal in place in state capitol

At least a half-dozen state lawmakers from Long Island told News 12 Tuesday that a budget agreement was in place, four days after the budget deadline.

An official agreement has not yet been released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo or leadership in the Legislature. News 12 has learned that four budget bills have gone to print, which is a clear indication that an agreement has been reached.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced midday that a budget deal was close at hand.

"I'm not saying it's an overall budget deal. There are still outstanding issues, but on the issues that everybody believes is holding up the budget...there's agreement," Heastie told News 12.

One of those issues holding up the deal was Raise the Age. Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds are treated as adults in the criminal system. Some lawmakers wanted to raise the age to 18. Republicans had resisted raising the age, but intense behind-the-scenes negotiations apparently resulted in a compromise.

News 12 sources say there is agreement to increase aid to local school districts by a little more than 4 percent over last year. There is also a plan to help middle-class families pay for college tuition, although details haven't been released.

As for why the budget talks dragged on four days beyond the deadline, some say part of it is a lasting resentment lawmakers have against the governor who they blame for blocking a planned pay raise for legislators.

"You can't underestimate the fact that the relationship between the governor and the Legislature has been poisoned, and it's been poisoned for a while," says Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. "People in the Legislature do not trust the governor."

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