Sweeping Changes Could Come

By Matt Markham

June 23, 2011 Updated Jun 23, 2011 at 6:48 PM EDT

Albany, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It could be a long night for legislators in Albany. As the end of the session nears, so too does a deadline on passing what could result in sweeping changes for New York.

All eyes are on the Capitol this year more than many years past.

There is landmark legislation on the table -- gay marriage, a tax cap, school tuition increases.

Decisions could be made on one or all of those issues Thursday night or Friday.

"It's pretty wild up here,” said Sen. Tom Libous (R-52nd District) There are people all over the place who are lobbying and singing songs and chanting."

Longtime legislators say they've never seen Albany like this. It is a race to the finish before lawmakers break for the summer.

The question is -- how many loose ends will they tie up?

"Really, we're down to some key issues that I hope we can get across the finish line today," said Sen. Jim Seward (R-51st District)

One key issue that is reportedly close to passage -- a gradual increase in SUNY tuition, $300 a year for five years, avoiding large sporadic increases.

"This plan is a good one,” Seward said. “Students will be able to plan what their tuition expenses are going to be, and it'll be good for the campuses because that money will stay there."

Another issue -- a property tax cap with mandate relief.

"It's just a matter of putting it in written legislative form," Libous said.

Perhaps the one issue that has captured the most attention -- same sex marriage.

Will it get to the floor tonight or tomorrow?

"Our Republican conference will caucus behind closed doors and vigorously debate whether or not same sex marriage should come to the floor," Libous said.

A decision either way would help bring the other important issues to the floor, as well.

I'm very hopeful that this will all be sorted out by tomorrow,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-126th District). “I think once the marriage issue is out of the way, some of the rest will fall in to place pretty quickly."

Aside from the heavy stuff lawmakers have been able to settle on a few things over the last few days. Among them, naming sweet corn as the state vegetable.

While negotiating takes place between lawmakers, the Governor and the CSEA has made a deal on the employment of state workers.

While there will be a three-year wage freeze, at least for now, ten thousand workers will not be laid off.

The Governor is still negotiating with the PEF.

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