If anger and agitation were the theme of Friday’s state budget talks and separation was the theme of Monday’s, legislative leaders on Tuesday tried to send a message of cooperation.
A few days after Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, abruptly left closed-door budget talks while declaring there was a “problem,” Skelos emerged Tuesday and immediately put his arm around Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, as the press cameras rolled.
On Friday, Skelos said “certain members in the room that represent another branch” were too worried about appeasing New York City in state budget talks. Silver later acknowledged Skelos was likely talking about him, though he said he was concerned about the whole state.
“Look how much I love Shelly!” Skelos said Tuesday.
“He was talking about the judiciary,” Silver said of Skelos.
The top lawmakers, who along with Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, huddled with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for about two hours Tuesday, all said they are making progress toward a budget agreement, but declined to give specifics that point to their progress.
The state’s budget deadline is March 31.
All three lawmakers repeatedly said all issues are still on the negotiating table, with Klein and Silver saying the Dream Act — a bill to allow immigrants in the country illegally access to college financial aid — is being discussed. (The Senate rejected a the act as a standalone bill last week.)
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have been steadfastly opposed to a system of public financing for political campaigns. But when asked if he foresees any scenario in which the GOP would agree to such a system as part of the budget, Skelos didn’t say no.
“Everything is being discussed,” Skelos said.
“We all draw no lines in the sand,” Silver added.