Progress reported on state budget negotiations

Posted at: 03/18/2013 11:28 PM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - Minimum wage and tax breaks for middle class families and businesses are among the final hurdles to a third straight on-time budget deal at the State Capitol.

Legislative leaders emerged from a meeting in the governor's office just after 6:00 P.M. Monday seemingly confident that a spending plan in the neighborhood of $143 billion would be in place soon.

"We look great on tax cuts," proclaimed Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R - Rockville Center).

"Minimum wage is still being discussed," said Senator Jeffrey Klein (D - Bronx), "Small business tax credits are still being discussed and I think we're moving in a positive direction."

"Everything looks fine," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D - Manhattan) declared. "It's all on the table. We're discussing everything and hopefully we'll have a conclusion."

"It's not soup yet," Senator Hugh Farley (R - Niskayuna) summed up. "By and large we're very close and they're still negotiating some of the issues."

While legislative leaders continue negotiating the issues, Governor Cuomo remains a constant presence at the Capitol, reminding everyone of the importance of passing a third consecutive on-time budget.

"I think this state suffered for many years looking at a state government that was dysfunctional, if not scandalous," the governor said last Thursday at a Red Room news conference.

So what's the hold up?

"You go shopping in a supermarket," Silver begins, "and then you get to the check out counter and some things you think you can pay for, you can't pay for and you put them back on the shelf."

And if one of the items to be returned happens to be soup, where would that leave the budget?

"It's a broth right now," Farley says.

The next leaders meeting was scheduled for Tuesday morning.