LEADERS AGREE TO DISAGREE ON THE BUDGET

Nearly two months past the state's deadline, no deal on a fiscal plan is in sight

Albany Times Union, Thursday, May 29, 1997
JOHN CAHER State editor

ALBANY -- Gov. George Pataki and legislative leaders met behind closed doors for about 30 minutes Wednesday without resolving, or even coming close to resolving, critical issues related to the state budget.

The budget, which was due April 1, is more than eight weeks late and no agreement is in sight, despite the fact that the state is facing deadlines on rent control, welfare reform and criminal justice.

Here's what the leadership trio said after emerging from the meeting:

Pataki: ``I can't say I was encouraged. The progress has been so slow as to be glacial. We are very far apart, and we are simply not going to allow this state to go back where it was, where we tax too much, promise more than can be delivered. We are going to have a budget that is real.''

On the issue of rent regulation, which applies to about 1.1 million apartments in New York City and some 50,0000 in the rest of the state, the governor said: ``The speaker has said a number of our provisions are not acceptable. The majority leader has said that a number of our provisions, to them, are not acceptable. We are trying to negotiate those differences.''

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno: ``I can't tell you we resolved any major issues. I asked about total revenue and I asked the speaker if he could get closer to a number that is in this world instead of the next world. I'm not convinced that is going to happen. . . . We've got some things we've got to get done by the middle of June . . . like truth in sentencing. If we don't get it done by the middle of June . . . you lose about $40 million from the feds. On the welfare piece, if we don't get that done sometime . . . in late June, we will lose tens of millions of dollars. . . . We've got to focus on that, and we've got to get it done.''

On rent regulation, Bruno said: ``It appears we are at a stage where there is still a lot of posturing politically on many of the issues. . . . My opinion? They (rent regulations) are going to expire. . . . I think rent has been used as an excuse by others not to progress with the budget. . . . Everyone knows what the rent issue is. The governor has a proposal. We are closer to that proposal than not. I expect there will be a bill before the law expires. We will pass a bill. I know there is a question of whether we have the votes. We have the votes. . . . That you can take to the bank.''

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: ``The fact is we still don't know where the Senate is. Where are they? They don't pass the governor's budget. They don't pass their own budget. More of the same. . . . There is no progress, no movement here. All I keep hearing is, `Your number is too high.' Senator Bruno has no number. I don't know why. . . . I am here to get a budget. The Assembly has passed a budget. The Assembly has passed a rent plan. The Assembly has passed an economic development power plan. The Assembly has passed an education plan. The Senate has done nothing. . . . Unfortunately, any bill has to go through two houses. . . . I can't pass a bill twice.''

On rent control, the Speaker said: ``Clearly, the governor, the Senate, the landlords are in tandem. They all want the rent laws to expire. That is what is happening here.''