After beginning the year with a flurry of legislation on items such as gun control, victims' rights and reproductive health, it would be unacceptable and irresponsible for the state Legislature to miss the deadline for passing a state budget.
With little more than two weeks to go before the end of the fiscal year, the Assembly, Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office are miles apart on revenue estimates for next year, and leaders appear bogged down in talks over issues such as criminal justice reform, early voting and legalized marijuana.
Cuomo on Monday said that he won't sign a budget that doesn't include making the 2-percent property tax cap permanent, and his budget director said last week that if legislative leaders "are not in a rush, neither are we."
But there is no excuse in mid-March for anyone to start saying that the budget might be late — and the people deserve better governance than a budget coming together on the night of March 31st and being voted on by lawmakers who haven't had a chance to read it, as has been the case in years past.
An on-time budget is important for municipalities and school districts eager to know exactly how much state aid they can count on next year, and state agencies need to be able to plan their spending and pay their contractors accordingly.
Cuomo's executive budget proposal has been out since January, and nobody can say they haven't seen the budget deadline coming. An agreement on a compromise budget needs to be reached before the end of the month, so if the Legislature is juggling too many one-house bills at this time, some of them need to be set aside for another day.
The Citizen editorial board includes interim publisher Thomas Salvo, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.