As the Times Union aptly notes in “Don’t rush state budget,” March 17, the state Legislature is operating in an unprecedented time as it moves to approve a budget for the coming fiscal year.

The Capitol’s normally bustling halls are now empty, the building closed to visitors. Legislative chambers are occupied by only a handful of lawmakers and procedural officials.

It would not only be a disservice to the New York public, but a danger, if New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leveraged the power of his increased profile to tuck in rollbacks to the state’s bail reform law into the FY2021 spending plan. Such a move would only further endanger the health of the public he has made a priority of protecting.

COVID-19 has entered Rikers Island. As crowded jail conditions eliminate the ability to practice necessary social distancing, New York must look to other states that have released many awaiting trial for the sake of public health.

This is no time to introduce rollbacks that will only increase the number of people going to jail.

Groups such as the Citizens Budget Commission have noted the fiscal issues surrounding coronavirus already incorporate enough complexities into the budget. We echo these calls.

We need the governor and Legislature to pass a budget for the crisis at hand. Let’s not make it more difficult and dangerous for New York families.

Kerry Kennedy

New York City

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