A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 04, 2019
Big Ugly (New York State budget process nickname)

The New York State budget process in Albany, New York, has been called the “Big Ugly.” The name comes from the 1990 budget deal—“a 235-page monstrosity accurately dubbed ‘the Big Ugly’ by Albany insiders,” according to the New York (NY) Times on May 17, 1990.

It’s called the ‘Big Ugly” because the budget bills are hundreds of pages, usually voted on even though most legislators haven’t read them. All major issues are considered simultaneously at the end of the legislative session and agreed to in backroom deals with Albany power brokers (such as the governor and majority leaders in the Senate and the Assembly).

“The Big Ugly” was entered into “Schott’s Vocab: A Miscellany of Modern Words and Phrases” in the New York Times on April 7, 2009. “The unofficial guide to New York political slang” by Rebecca C. Lewis in City & State—New York on January 7, 2018 defined the term:

The Big Ug•ly n. 1 The package of many unrelated bills that get thrown together at the end of the legislative session.”


16 May 1990, New York (NY) Times, “Albany Legislators Reach Accord on $1.4 Billion in Taxes and Fees” by Elizabeth Kolbert, pg. B4, cols. 1-2:
ALBANY, May 15—New York State’s legislative leaders today reached a final accord on a $1.4 billion package of taxes and fees that would raise the price of dozens of goods and services, including liquor, soda, car rentals and parking.
(...)
Many of the changes in the tax accord had been tentatively agreed upon for weeks. But many others were still being debated until early this morning, when the 275-page tax bill, dubbed “the Big Ugly,” was sent to be printed.

17 May 1990, New York (NY) Times, ‘The Budget: late and Ugly” (editorial), pg. A28, col. 1:
Gov. Mario Cuomo tries to disown it. So do Senate Republicans, led by the majority leader, Ralph Marino. In truth, neither side can escape the blame for the $1.4 billion package of new taxes and fees agreed to this week by New York State legislative leaders—a 235-page monstrosity accurately dubbed “the Big Ugly” by Albany insiders.

22 May 1990, Daily News (New York, NY), “Amid disgrace. some pluses” (editorial), pg. 30, col. 1:
Albany’s record this year is one of general disgrace. The budget is historically, shamefully late. And the tax package is rightfully named “the Big Ugly.” Big, because it’s $1.4 billion in new levies. Ugly, because it’s a lot of cowardly nickel-and-dime taxes instead of one or two courageous broad-based taxes.

8 January 2003, New York (NY) Times, ‘Silver Pushes for Stronger Rent Controls” by Al Baker, pg. B5, col. 3:
“In Albany, nothing gets done until everything gets done, in terms of big priorities,” said Blair Horner, the legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. (...) “This year it is hard to imagine the budget, the health care reform act and rent control will not be negotiated simultaneously,” he said. “It’s called the Big Ugly. It’s typically the way Albany runs.”

16 February 2003, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “It’s Business as Unusual / Tricky steps for city, state budget dance” by Dan Janison, pg. A8:
For the fiscally distressed city, the voyage toward state help could last months and threaten chaos - unless legislators change their habits this year and agree on major decisions before summer.

Usually, state lawmakers mix budget with nonbudget measures in a summertime mega-deal some call “The Big Ugly.”

Twitter
politickerny
@politickerny
Morning Read, Upstate: Rich Tax Deal May Be Done, The Last 20th Debate: A budget called “the big ugly” progesses.. http://tinyurl.com/cf8z6j
9:13 AM - 27 Mar 2009

New York (NY) Times
Schott’s Vocab
A MISCELLANY OF MODERN WORDS AND PHRASES
The Big Ugly

APRIL 7, 2009 1:00 PM April 7, 2009 1:00 pm
New York’s $131.8 billion budget.

A New York Times editorial observed recently:

Despite all of the talk of shared sacrifice and of not filling in long-term gaps with short-term federal stimulus dollars, Gov. David Paterson of New York and other Democratic leaders have produced a budget that is now up to $131 billion— a whopping $10 billion more than last year’s. …

Republicans who are now in the minority and had almost no voice in the secretive budget negotiations are calling it simply: “The Big Ugly.”


(This is not the first time that the term “The Big Ugly” has been associated with a New York state budget; in 1990, the nickname was applied to a much-debated $1.4 billion tax package.)

Google Groups: B-Movies
The Big Ugly Part 2
CapnHollis
4/8/09
As we all know journalistic interest is an investment in someone else’s business. That being said the New York state legislature fired up another good one:
(The New York Times item above is reprinted.—ed.)

Twitter
Jeanne Buchanan
@FolioJeanne
NYT editorial referred to state budget as The Big Ugly. I think that vocabulary has legs. I can’t wait to use it.
6:19 PM - 8 Apr 2009

City and State—New York
The Big Ugly
By ASHLEY HUPFL
MAY 26, 2015
(...)
Ultimately each measure was passed, although the success was tempered by criticism that they were all lumped together in a last-minute flurry of horse-trading, resulting in a hodgepodge of legislation.

In Albany parlance, this has come to be known as the “Big Ugly”—a term despised by several lawmakers, though privately used by many.

Google Books
Failed State:
Dysfunction and Corruption in an American Statehouse

By Seymour P. Lachman
Albany, NY: SUNY Press
2017 (Original edition 2006)
Pg. 175:
Legislators like me were advised how and when to vote to approve the aggregate budget package—or Big Ugly as some call it—and neither we nor even at times the experts of the budget staff knew the financial rationale for particular appropriations or cuts.

City & State—New York
The unofficial guide to New York political slang
By REBECCA C. LEWIS
JANUARY 7, 2018
(...)
The Big Ug•ly n. 1 The package of many unrelated bills that get thrown together at the end of the legislative session

Twitter
Jack Sterne
@JRSterne
OH in my office: “Why isn’t an article titled ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Big Ugly of the Budget’?”
Honestly, someone needs to write this article. #NYSBudget
6:03 PM - 2 Apr 2018

Twitter
Mathylde Frontus
@FrontusforNY
My remarks from yesterday morning. They don’t call the N.Y. State budget “the big ugly” for no reason. We just didn’t get everything that we wanted.  Nevertheless, we should celebrate the victories like criminal justice reforms.
0:37
11:17 PM - 2 Apr 2019

Syracuse (NY) New Times
OPINION & BLOGS
Column | 3 Men and a State Budget: Albany’s March Madness
By Luke Parsnow
Posted on April 3, 2019
(...)
This problem has been going on for a long time. The state budget, due by law every April 1, is supposed to balance New York’s checkbooks for the next year. But it has also become a catchall for landmark legislation that politicians want to squeeze in there as part of the deal, making it more about policy than finances. This has led to the divisive non-transparent political power match that now defines the budget season. It didn’t get its nickname “the big ugly” for nothing.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Thursday, April 04, 2019 • Permalink