Positive COVID-19 test could make budget negotiations strategically trickier

Positive COVID-19 test could make budget negotiations strategically trickier
Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives a briefing in New York City Wednesday. (Source: WWNY)

NEW YORK (WWNY) - A state legislative leader’s positive COVID-19 test result could put a crimp on getting an on-time state budget.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, posing a challenge to getting the budget done by the April 1 deadline.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a briefing in New York City on Wednesday that this could make it more difficult to pass the budget on time, because agreements on the spending plan are generally reached through long negotiations with 15 or 20 people in a room.

Negotiations typically include the governor, the Assembly speaker, and the Senate majority leader.

“That is not going to happen this year,” Cuomo said, because the speaker and his staff will be under quarantine.

Even without Heastie’s diagnosis, the governor said, negotiations on that scale would be difficult under COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’re going to try to get it done April 1, but I’m not going to risk public health to get it done April 1,” Cuomo said, “and we’ll see how it goes.”

The governor prides himself on getting budgets wrapped up on time.

“I have been obsessive about getting the budget done on time April 1,” he said. “I am also obsessive about COVID and public health, so I have competing obsessions.”

Heastie said Tuesday he was experiencing only minor symptoms.

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