Battle over bail reform holding up New York state budget

It’s Gov.Kathy Hochul’s second time negotiating a budget and now the second time a budget has been late under her administration.

The main sticking point? Bail reform. 

Some Democrats said they are ready for a fight if proposed changes to the state’s bail laws are approved in the state budget. 

"We have attorneys who are preparing to be able to bring a lawsuit to challenge those changes on the constitutional grounds that they do not meet equal protection under the law, they do not meet due process under the law and they also butt up against the Eighth Amendment right in the Constitution with respect to excessive bail," Assemblywoman Latrice Walker told FOX 5 New York. 

Walker has been fighting against proposed changes to bail reform over the last few years and said this year she is ready to bring a lawsuit. 

"We've seen lawsuits being brought against the city of Detroit with respect to excessive bail," Walker said. "We've seen lawsuits brought against the state of Texas and so we are gearing up and being prepared and ready to do the same here as well." 

Hochul wants to give judges more discretion when setting bail by removing the least restrictive means standard from the law. 

But some Democrats are pushing back, including Walker who said she will be going on a hunger strike starting on Sunday. 

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"We know that what was done with respect to our criminal justice reforms was the right thing to do," Walker said. "We see that it's working. It is backed by data and we are calling on our legislative leaders to continue to hold the line." 

But Hochul has made it clear that she doesn’t mind holding up the budget over this issue. 

She even this week released an official statement announcing the arrest of a New York City man who is being accused of strangling his 15-year-old stepson to death, a day after a Bronx judge set him free without bail. 

Mayor Eric Adams and the NYPD police commissioner have also been pushing for changes to the state’s bail laws in order to tackle repeat offenders. 

"Last year 327 individuals were arrested more than 6,000 times for retail theft and nearly half of those individuals are convicted felons," NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. "Numbers such as these illustrate how impactful recidivism really is. Recidivism is the undertow pulling against everything we are doing to keep our city safe." 

According to sources, another policy item holding up the budget is a controversial housing proposal that would build more housing in localities even if they refuse. 

A budget extension was passed last week, but the State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli warned that if another extender is not passed by Monday at noon, then 83,000 state workers are at risk of not getting paid. 

"I don't like the message it sends to New York taxpayers," Republican Assemblyman Ed Ra said. "It's not like oh, the Republicans are digging their heels in on X or Y. One party is in control and they can't come to an agreement. 

In the last 30 years, the latest state budget was in 2004. It was 133 days late.