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Skelos: Budget machinery could begin today

ALBANY -    Lawmakers anticipate printing some state budget bills Friday and possibly finishing Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said, signaling they are thisclose to an agreement.

   The significance is that bills are supposed to be printed and available to lawmakers for three days before being taken up for a vote. Under Skelos’ scenario, rank-and-file legislators could begin voting Monday and finish Tuesday, just in time to beat the April 1 fiscal deadline.

  “I think there should be some bills introduced today and the balanced introduced tomorrow night,” Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said after emerging from a closed-door conference with Senate Republicans.

 The budget end game seems near.

 Skelos said lawmakers almost are settled on new ethics laws, and haven’t finalized education aid and teacher evaluations, or allocations from a $5 billion banking settlement.

  Skelos said the ethics law will require “robust disclosure” but wouldn’t go into details.

   "I'm not going to describe it because some times things change after you describe it," Skelos said. Earlier this week, tensions between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislators flared in the back-and-forth of what was included in or excluded from the latest ethics draft.

  Skelos said Democrats were trying a last-minute attempt to link the so-called Dream Act to property tax credit plan, an idea the GOP opposes. The Dream Act would allow children of illegal immigrants to apply for state college aid. Cuomo, a Democrat, tied it to an education tax credit that Republicans favored in an attempt to win approval for both initiatives. But the trade-off ran into stiff opposition in the Senate and Assembly.


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