The top legislative leaders emerged from closed-door budget negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo reporting progress and gave a clear public signal that whatever disagreements between Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos arose had been patched up.
“Look how much I love Shelly,” Skelos said smiling while putting his arm around the longtime speaker.
The moment was in contrast to last week’s blow up when Skelos stormed out of the meeting claiming that “another branch of government” was pushing New York City issues in the budget talks (There is no doubt he was referring to Silver, who has confounded Republicans during budget negotiations for 20 years now).
Cuomo had met separately with the Senate leaders and Silver on Monday.
On Tuesday morning, however, Silver and Skelos, along with Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, sought to put on a unified face.
“I think we’ve had tremendous progress,” Silver said. “We’re making down the issues where staff can carry out our wishes collectively.”
“I don’t think we’re going to have an agreement today, but we’re working toward one,” Silver said.
A variety of contentious issues remain to be hashed out.
Lawmakers — including Skelos — did not rule out either including the Dream Act or the public financing of political campaigns in the budget talks.
“Everything’s being discussed,” Skelos said.
The legalization of medical marijuana, however, is not expected to be in the final spending plan (Sen. Diane Savino, the measure’s lead sponsor in the Senate, believes it will be taken up post budget).
At the same time, lawmakers must strike deals on a funding level for universal pre-Kindergarten as well as new protections for charter schools in New York City.
“We’re not apart, per se, everything’s got to fit in with everything else,” Silver said. “That’s the real key.”
I have a difficult time seeing Cuomo do a budget deal without getting his way on the charter school issues just as I have a difficult time seeing Cuomo do a deal without getting his way on the teacher evaluation issue.
What say you?
What "protections" will Cuomo get for charter schools in the budget deal?
What, if anything, will they do over APPR?
And what changes will they make to the CCSS reform agenda?