ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - State lawmakers in Albany say they're optimistic a new state budget can be passed before the new fiscal year begins April 1. Educators in may districts around the state are holding their breath hoping more funding finds its way into the budget.
Education advocates and some Democrats in the New York Legislature are pushing for more money for public schools as lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo work to craft a new state budget.
Several lawmakers joined dozens of parents and advocates Thursday for a protest outside Cuomo's office.
The Democratic governor has called for $956 million in new spending for a total of $27.7 billion. Critics say at least $600 million more is needed.
Those at Thursday's protest want an additional $1.2 billion in order to comply with court rulings that found the state was underfunding public schools.
Education spending makes up the largest share of the budget and is often among the thorniest issues to resolve in the budget.
Other items considered for the budget include new vehicle tolls in Manhattan and a statewide plastic bag ban.
Key issues in the proposed spending plan include proposals to eliminate cash bail for criminal defendants and calls for new tolls in Manhattan as a way to raise money for the city's subways.
Cuomo, a Democrat, has said he won't sign a budget that doesn't also contain a provision making the 2 percent local property tax cap permanent.
Cuomo says he doesn't expect proposals to legalize recreational marijuana to be included in the state budget.
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