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Senate leader says differences should not lead to late budget

Karen Dewitt
State Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie speak with the press.

Legislative leaders say despite their differences with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, they intend to continue their streak of on time budgets by approving the spending plan on time for the fifth year in a row.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos says he disagrees with Cuomo’s attempts to link unrelated policy items, like education issues and an ethics reform package to the state budget. The Senate and Assembly one -house budget proposals reject many of the measures that Cuomo’s linked to the budget. But Skelos says he doesn’t think the differences should hold up the budget, as Cuomo has threatened.

“The bottom line is, this would be our fifth on- time budget,” Skelos said. “A late budget would send an improper message, that this government has gone back to its dysfunctional, Washington ways.”

Skelos says some of the ethics and education issues could be resolved during the rest of the session.

Senate Republicans have also rejected Cuomo’s plan to hold an economic development competition for the troubled upstate region. Cuomo wants seven cities to compete for $1.5 billion, with just three winners who each take half a billion for economic projects.

Skelos says he likes the idea of competition, but wants to award the money based on the merits of each entry,  and not pit one entire region of the state against another.

“It should be based on individual projects,” Skelos said. “Not that four regions should lose and three regions should win.”

The Assembly does not make any revisions to the economic development competition, but Speaker Carl Heastie says that could change as budget talks progress.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.