Crisis Averted? Espada Warming to Budget Extender

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. may vote for a budget extender after all.

Espada, who has injected fear into the Capitol by threatening to vote against a must-pass budget extender Monday, told me late this morning that he has been “assured” major cuts to health care and education will not be included in the extender, and expects to vote “yes,” based on the information he has so far.

“We’ve seen the language that’s going to be used for the extender, and it will not include major cuts” to the services that he has resisted cutting, he said.

He continued:

“The negotiations are going on now–I was updated on that–I know staff has draft language. I don’t have it, but the bottom line is, the report around the table that I’ve just received gives me crystal clear and great confidence that our next extender will be our last extender.”

Espada also said—repeating a line he said on TV this morning—that a budget is not all that far off, and could come as early as next week. “We’re making great progress toward getting a budget deal done,” he said.

(The governor didn’t seem to agree this morning, calling Espada’s summary of budget talks “obtuse.”)

I’ve reached out to the governor’s office for comment.

Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader John Sampson, suggested in a statement that negotiations are focusing on avoiding major cuts in Monday’s extender:

“Working with the Assembly and Governor, we are making substantial progress toward a final and fair budget which would nullify the need for a broader reaching emergency appropriation next week.”