Speaker says, "It's not an ideal world" as New York lawmakers rush to beat budget deadline

Economic IndicatorsAssociated Press

Lawmakers plan to vote Tuesday on the final provisions of the state budget, including changes to teacher evaluations and an ethics proposal intended to clean up Albany's pernicious corruption problem.

The final proposals, however, were given to lawmakers just hours before they were expected to vote, and the public still hasn't seen many of the details. The reason for the rush? Legislators and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo want to pass the budget before a midnight deadline and the start of a new fiscal year begins.

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"It's not an ideal world," Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters as the final bills were being printed. "It's not an ideal situation. But the people in the state want an on-time budget."

The ethics proposal will require lawmakers to disclose their outside income and will make lawyers in the Legislature identify clients. There will be exemptions, however, allowing lawmakers to redact the names of clients without ties to government. Lawyers paid by a firm for their political influence could also list no clients.

Government watchdog groups say that without the details it's difficult to assess whether the exemptions are so broad as to undermine the measure's intent.

The measure was prompted by the arrest of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who's fighting charges that he took nearly $4 million in payoffs.

The education provision includes $1.4 billion in new school funding — though lawmakers only found out how much money each of their districts would get Tuesday.

It also includes a modified version of Cuomo's proposal to overhaul teacher evaluation and tenure rules. Cuomo had wanted to revise evaluations to more greatly emphasis student test performance. The compromise with lawmakers would have the State Education Department review possible changes.

On Monday, lawmakers approved other budget provisions, including a new tax cut on the sale of boats costing $230,000 — a move that was criticized by some lawmakers and advocates who had hoped to see the budget include broader property tax relief or a minimum wage increase.