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Heading into the holiday weekend, still no budget deal in Albany

Governor Andrew Cuomo Flickr

As the hours ticked away on Friday, lawmakers remained unable to settle their differences and reach a final deal on their multi-billion dollar budget package.

By 4 p.m. lawmakers remained at the Capitol haggling over details, missing their self-imposed deadline to finish the budget before the Easter and Passover holidays.

It was not immediately clear whether lawmakers would stay to strike a deal or quit negotiations for the weekend and resume some time this weekend or next week. They could also pass budget “extenders” to keep the government running, but Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie dismissed that idea, according to the New York Times.

As usual, education issues stood in the way of a final budget agreement. But this year, it was private school policy — not teacher evaluations or charter school funding — that was stealing the show as lawmakers approached the deadline.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie sent out a statement at around 10 a.m. on Friday blaming an issue with “non-public schools” for holding up the budget. Although he did not specifically mention State Senator Simcha Felder, it’s been widely reported that the senator is demanding that yeshivas are shielded from following certain state standards.

Heastie’s statement suggests that the majority in the Assembly believe the issue should be dealt with at the end of the legislative process, but rather with officials at the state education department.

“To be clear, we have worked with the Senate and the Governor and have agreement on 99.9 percent of the budget,” the statement read. “The remaining issue, an education policy with no fiscal impact, concerns regulations for certain non-public schools.”

According to reports, state senators fired back, saying that the Assembly was also preventing a finalized budget by pushing for pay raises. Simcha Felder reportedly said he doesn’t have the power to block a budget deal.

Earlier this week, we spelled out a host of education issues we’re watching.

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