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Bills’ stadium funding among reasons New York State budget is late

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Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

New York State lawmakers missed their April 1 deadline for a state budget this morning and one of the reasons why is the massive $600 million in state funding for the new Buffalo Bills stadium.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Cousins revealed on Thursday that she was “blindsided” by the deal struck between the Bills and Governor Kathy Hochul, especially the price tag to the public.

As a personal opinion, I think Cousins is playing a little game of political theater. The reporting around the new Bills stadium has said that the public funding was as high as $1 billion, so the $600 million is much lower than that. Being upset about the number is one thing, but “blindsided” seems to be willfully burying your head in the sand.

Along with the stadium funding, there are other hot-button conversations holding up the deal. The budget is voted on as a collective, so a vote on stadium funding shouldn’t be held separately.

It’s not that Cousins is against the proposal, just that she claims to have been in the dark.

“So we actually have the parameters, I’m not in a position to really talk about it, other than the fact that clearly it is now being discussed. We’re going to get the language. We’re going to take a look at it,” Cousins said Thursday. “But I think that we all know that the Buffalo Bills are important, not only to Buffalo, but to the state, so we’re looking at it, but I don’t have the language yet.”

As of Thursday night, lawmakers had left Albany for a long weekend, so we won’t get a resolution until next week. The stated goal is to get the delayed budget approved by 4 PM Eastern Monday for the state to avoid “issues with payroll” according to state comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The NFL owners approved the deal earlier this week. Erie County lawmakers could take up to 30 days to approve their $250 million expenditure. Along with the state, all three entities will need to approve the agreement before it’s finalized.