Last week, the Assembly and Senate released and then approved their respective one-house budget proposals, the two houses then commenced the budget conference committee process.  Both houses are seeking more education spending, and oppose Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to force them to address ethics reform and teacher evaluations and tenure as part of the budget.

The legislative budget conference committee process is expected to be in full swing next week, while legislative leaders participate in closed-door meetings with Gov. Cuomo.  Lawmakers have expressed optimism that the state’s budget will be enacted before the start of the state’s new fiscal year on April 1.

The Assembly’s one-house budget – which it calls the Families First budget proposal – is described as “an investment in the health, safety, economic success and social well-being of New York’s families.”  Highlights increasing school aid by $1.8 billion; raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in the New York City region by 2018 and $11.40 per hour in the rest of the state; increasing support for higher education; funding the DREAM Act; and raising the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.

The Senate’s “Brighter Future” plan would create a new property tax rebate program; making the real property tax cap permanent; increasing school aid by $1.9 billion; a $1.5 five-year road and bridge capital program; and supporting the state’s farmers.

According to the legislative budget schedule, the budget conference committees should complete their work later this week. Which will hopefully lead to a fifth-consecutive on-time state budget.