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Levy meets with Albany Republicans on fiscal plan

ALBANY - Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy met with Republicans in the Assembly and Senate Wednesday, delivering his 10-point fiscal plan in what he called a bid to establish a "comfort level" with members of his newly adopted party that "we'd be a team."

Levy's pitch went over well, by all accounts - "very interesting," one upstate Assembly member confided to another on the way out.

The lawmakers will have a chance to hear a presentation from Levy's rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, former Rep. Rick Lazio, when he visits Albany Thursday.

Levy emerged from the meetings brimming with optimism. Republican Assembly members, he said, "are really high on the idea of a specific plan that could provide a mandate for sweeping change."

For Nassau Republicans, this visit was touchy business, given that their chairman, Joseph Mondello, was campaigning with Lazio in Mineola.

"No comment," said East Meadow Assemb. Thomas McKevitt, referring questions to Mondello.

But even some Lazio supporters were jazzed. "He's dynamic and he has a message," noted Nancy Calhoun of upstate New Windsor. "Let's see how the message goes forward."

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), said Levy "gave an excellent presentation," but noted that he himself has already has endorsed Lazio. "I've told the conference that each member should do what they want to do, but the ultimate decision as to whether Steve gets 51 percent is up to the state committee votes," Skelos said.

Skelos said he would leave it to "this entire nominating process" to evaluate a story on the New York Post Web site Wednesday quoting from a Working Families Party questionnaire Levy had filled out for his county race in 2007, supporting single-payer health care, public financing of local elections and a living wage, a union priority.

Levy responded that he still backs "comprehensive campaign reform which in the long term would lower taxes," and that living wage law has little impact on business in Suffolk.

"Regarding the health care question: At the time the concept was on the radar screen because it could absolve county government from crushing federal Medicaid mandates," said Levy. But the new federal plan, he said, "actually increases the Medicaid burden in the state."

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