State legislators begin 2021 session Wednesday
Amanda Fries is reporting for the Times Union the state Legislature will convene Wed., Jan. 6, for the start of the new session. With an extended eviction moratorium already in place, their emphasis will remain on the public health crisis and reining in the $63 billion deficit predicted through 2024. This week they will nominate legislative leaders and take care of other internal business. "Our members will be working hard to keep people safe, get our economy moving, and help people get back to work," said Michael Whyland, spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie. Heastie will present his 2021 priorities to members next week, Whyland said. New York is grappling with a nearly $15 billion budget gap this year alone and Democrats have denounced what they say is an insufficient federal response to requests for aid to state and local governments amid the pandemic. Elected officials have come out in strong support of raising taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to help close the gap, while also moving forward with a recreational cannabis program that would bring new revenue to the state. Budget Division spokesman Freeman Klopott said in a statement that "...In the absence of federal funding, the state will consider spending reductions, borrowing, and revenue increases to close the deficit.” Cuomo will deliver the annual State of the State address Mon., Jan. 11, an he has acknowledged that legalizing recreational marijuana, raising taxes, cutting expenses and even layoffs of public employees could be on the table. Read the full story in the Times Union.