New York state budget deal includes overhaul of bail reform: sources
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers struck a tentative budget deal for the Empire State early Wednesday that includes an overhaul of last year’s controversial bail reforms, The Post has learned.
“We have a conceptual agreement with the leaders on the budget,” Cuomo told reporters at the state Capitol on Wednesday, declining to elaborate further.
Because the deal was struck hours after the Wednesday midnight deadline, paychecks for 120,000 state employees — and lawmakers — were delayed.
However, details about the changes to the state’s bail and discovery laws and other key budget sticking points — including the total price tag, education funding and Medicaid cuts and reforms — remain scant as the bills have yet to be printed.
Cuomo and the state Senate have floated proposals that would eliminate bail across New York state but empower judges to remand defendants they believe pose a danger to the public while awaiting trial.
Additionally, there will be more state funding to help police departments and district attorneys comply with the state’s new discovery rules that require evidence be turned over within two weeks of a defendant’s arraignment.
The bail and discovery overhauls in last year’s budget were long sought by criminal justice advocates, who complained New York’s longstanding procedures allowed prosecutors to withhold evidence until just days before trial and frequently left defendants in city jails for months — sometimes more — awaiting trial.
In one infamous case, Kalief Browder spent three years on Rikers Island — two of them in solitary — awaiting trial in a joyriding case that Bronx prosecutors ultimately dropped. He later committed suicide.
The legislative session opened in January with lawmakers facing a $6 billion deficit — $4 billion of which was linked back to Medicaid, the state’s health insurance program for the poor.
That was before the coronavirus outbreak torpedoed the state’s economy, causing tax revenues to drop by as much as $15 billion.
The twin crises could leave the state with a budget hole in excess of $20 billion.
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