Gov. David Paterson and legislative leaders broke from a meeting in Manhattan this afternoon on the state budget without a deal, but apparently some new proposals from lawmakers on how to end the budget impasse.
Paterson indicated he wasn’t sure what to make of the meeting with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn.
“What I would say is that there is something that they threw in my court. If it’s a ball, then it works, if it’s not, then we had an afternoon that was unproductive,” Paterson told reporters after the meeting. “What we need right now in this state is real and recurring reductions that put our economic picture back in balance.”
Legislative officials said the meeting basically boiled down to figuring out how they all could agree on a contingency plan if $1 billion in Medicaid money from Washington doesn’t come through, a SUNY empowerment plan and some sort of property-tax relief.
Paterson wants a property-tax cap, but that continues to be a non-starter in the Assembly, which instead is looking for school-aid restorations.
As a way to perhaps get the governor to back some school-aid restorations—which aides said he has no plans to do—legislative leaders are talking about a scaled-down SUNY empowerment plan that would give the public colleges more autonomy but at the same time still give the Legislature some control over the system.
For example, SUNY would be able to set smaller tuition increases than initially proposed, but the Tuition Assistance Program would cover the cost for low-income students, and the Legislature would still have a say in how SUNY bonds for projects.
Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Sampson, said the sides continue to seek agreement in advance of Wednesday’s special session being called by the governor.
“The leaders met with the governor to present their counter proposals to resolve the budget in a fair and responsible manner by creating jobs through SUNY empowerment, reaching an agreement on an FMAP contingency plan and providing property-tax relief,” he said.