NY 1: Albany Lawmakers Close To An On-Time Budget Deal

Andrew J Lanza

March 25, 2011

By: Erin Billups

As a deadline of April 1 approaches, state lawmakers say they are very close to a budget deal.

After emerging from a closed-door meeting with Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said they are close to a deal, and that there will be some school aid restoration in the budget.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said a deal could be reached as early as Friday evening.

That means there could be a vote on Monday.

Cuomo said in a statement that he is committed to a budget that provides reforms he had promised, saying, "[P]rogress towards a budget agreement continues. As the deadline approaches, we continue to work towards an on-time, amicable resolution."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says there will likely be some restorations in proposed education cuts.

Lawmakers are still ironing out those numbers and negotiating healthcare concerns, like whether to keep a cap on medical malpractice awards in the budget.

What definitely won’t be in the budget, said Senator Skelos, is a tax on the state’s wealthiest New Yorkers otherwise known as the "millionaire tax."

"That's gone. It's off the table, that's gone. It's done, it's dead, it's not going to happen," said the senator.

Skelos also said that the budget will not address rent control.

Silver said that Cuomo personally assured him that rent regulations will be addressed well before they expire in June.

Funding for numerous social service programs are also said to be on the outs.

"What's important is the end result. Rent regulations now are in effect until June 15. I would like to see an early resolution to that," said Silver. "I would like to see tenants have certainty in where they are and what they're doing in making their plans."

“It would not be the first time in my 20 years that I saw people hold their nose and vote for a budget that didn’t have all of the things that they wanted," said State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick.

An on-time or early budget would be a victory for the governor and even senate Republicans who campaigned on ending the dysfunction of an all-Democratic run state government.

"In general terms, yes I am happy because I think we were able to keep our promise," said State Senator Andrew Lanza.

Lawmakers are expected to work through Friday to hammer out the deal.

Last year's budget was 125 days late.