Cuomo's happy talk reminder

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Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at

Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Albany. (March 17, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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Perhaps the stage hook was coming next.

At a budget news conference Thursday with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the four legislative leaders, the governor twice tugged on the back of Senate Minority Leader John Sampson’s suit jacket as the senator gave opening remarks.

Cuomo said he had warned Sampson, a fellow Democrat, during a preceding budget meeting he would grab his suit if the senator’s speech turned “pessimistic.”

“I was holding onto Sen. Sampson’s suit just to make sure he didn’t go down the pessimistic track while he was speaking, which I told him I would,” a smiling Cuomo said during the question and answer session in the Capitol’s Red Room.

Cuomo and his main counterparts, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), have emphasized how harmonious and cordial the budget talks have been. Sampson, however, has been critical of slashing aid to urban school districts and economic development cuts in the Senate budget resolution. He mentioned both in his opening statement but the remarks were tempered.

Later, after Cuomo said his job differed from legislative leaders because he did not have to make individual lawmakers happy, a reporter asked if the governor believed it wasn't important to please legislators.

"I want everybody happy," Cuomo said, before breaking into a sing-song voice. "I want eeeeee-verybody happy."

Asked afterward about Cuomo’s gesture, Sampson remembered to stay positive.

“The governor has done a phenomenal job just getting us together, getting us on the same page, and he thinks I’m going to be pessimistic about things, but I’m very optimistic that not only we will have an on-time budget but a good budget.”

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