The state Senate began the process of passing budget bills Sunday, and some lawmakers knocked the Assembly for not doing the same.
Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, decided over the weekend to call his conference back on Thursday, as not all of the bills would be ready for a vote until later in the week. The break accommodates the Jewish holiday of Passover, which starts Monday and extends through Wednesday.
Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said he expected his chamber to be in session during the religious holiday.
“If it affects members, then they should respect their religion and do whatever they have to do,” Libous told reporters on Sunday. “I’m a Catholic. Today’s Palm Sunday, and I’m here working.”
Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said Silver sets the calendar for the Assembly, while Skelos and Senate co-leader Jeffrey Klein, D-Bronx, arrange their chamber’s schedule.
“Now it’s up to the speaker to make a determination as to whether he wants an on-time budget or he doesn’t want an on-time budget,” Skelos said Sunday.
Michael Whyland, Silver’s spokesman, refuted claims that the Assembly was attempting to thwart an on-time budget.
“Negotiations are ongoing. We already told our members yesterday that we will return on Thursday to complete action on the budget,” he said in an email.
Klein, leader of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, said Sunday he was “confident” the chamber would pass budget bills by the end of the week.
“I have no idea why the Assembly is not here, but I know the Senate is here,” Klein said Sunday.
“I’m not going anywhere; I’m staying right here until we pass this budget,” he continued. “And by the way, we told our members last week that we would be here this week.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, called Silver’s actions “impolite.”
“It’s kind of frustrating to me that we were ready to come back Sunday, and that was the plan, and unilaterally, the Assembly speaker decided that he’s calling his conference back on Thursday,” DeFrancisco said. “You’re going to have to talk to him about what the motive is, because I don’t think he consulted anyone on this side as to what his desires were.”
Watch the Libous interview here: