ALBANY, N.Y. — State lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo continued negotiations on the state budget Monday, but a deal remained elusive.
"That's the whole thing. Everything is fluid right now. I mean, everybody knows that certain things have to be done. Those of us who are Upstate know the gap elimination for education has to be closed. All of those things are being worked on," said state Sen. Tom Libous, R-Binghamton.
But Albany's so-called four men in a room didn't actually all meet together on Monday, after Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos stormed out of a close-door meeting last week complaining that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was only pushing the concerns of New York City. On Monday, Cuomo held separate meetings with Skelos and IDC Leader Jeff Klein. Thirty minutes later, Silver had his private sit-down with Cuomo.
"Sometimes I think you accomplish more doing it separately. Last Friday, the senator was agitated about what was discussed and it's just easier to do that," said Assembly Speaker Silver, D.
Lawmakers said they had agreed on the need for finding a way to cut property taxes and spend more money to fund universal pre-kindergarten in New York City.
"It's about narrowing some of the numbers and we're doing that. We're on track to have an on-time budget," said Senate Republican Leader Skelos, R.
An agreement on the Dream Act appears increasingly unlikely. The bill would provide tuition assistance to the children of undocumented immigrants.
"We didn't discuss that today and I think what we need to do is really focus on the issues at hand. I think universal pre-K is really important, property tax relief, renter relief," said Senate IDC leader Jeff Klein, D.
But state lawmakers are not ruling out a potential agreement on ethics legislation. While Senate Republicans are opposed to the public financing of political campaigns, Cuomo may be able to win a deal on tighter anti-bribery and corruption laws.
"I know they’re discussing another whole bunch of options on ethics and corruption. I think probably we’re going to have a package to tighten up things, they have to be done," Libous said.
The budget is due next Monday, but an agreement would have to be in placed by late this week in order for bills to be printed and then voted on.