The optimism came after Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, met behind closed doors this morning with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on trying to find a three-way compromise.
“I’m very optimistic that we’ll be able to announce a conceptual agreement, hopefully even more than a conceptual agreement, tomorrow,” Skelos told reporters after the hour-long meeting. “That’s my goal. That’s our conference’s goal. And we believe it can happen.”
But few specific details emerged on how the sides would reconcile their main areas of disagreement, specifically restoring some of the $1.5 billion in school-aid cuts proposed by Cuomo and the Democratic governor’s plan to cap medical-malpractice awards to New Yorkers. Senate Republicans are also seeking changes to Cuomo’s prison-closure plan.
Yet Skelos was emphatic that retaining higher income-tax brackets for the wealthy, which is set to expire at year’s end, would not be part of the budget deal – despite protests from Assembly Democrats and education groups. Cuomo is also opposed to keeping the higher tax.
“That’s gone. It’s done. It’s dead. It’s not going to happen,” Skelos said.
Skelos said that rent-control regulations and a property-tax cap would be dealt with after the budget is completed.