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State Budget Deal Not Reached Before Weekend

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TWC News: State Budget Deal Not Reached Before Weekend
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Less than a week before the start of the state's next fiscal year, state budget talks hit a snag on Friday, but lawmakers insisted they were still on track and the State Assembly speaker vowed to return to work Sunday to take care of some unfinished business. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.

As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver left Albany to observe the Sabbath, he said simply, "No deal." A budget deal had not been reached on Friday, as earlier predicted by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Governor Andrew Cuomo sounded more pessimistic.

"In Albany, the process in this town is people are very good at talking about agreements, making progress towards agreements, but they're very good at tiptoeing along the goal line with never stepping over," said the governor.

Still, the so-called "three men in the room" said they were close.

“My first budget negotiation, but I think it’s just little stuff that pops up that’s not going to stop an on-time budget,” said Skelos.

The assembly is still pushing for a cap on medical malpractice awards to be removed from the budget.

“That’s an important issue for the speaker,” said Skelos.

Rank-and-file Senate Republicans maintained concerns over how closing state prisons could affect upstate communities.

“If you protected all of the jobs, you would be getting the savings the state is looking for,” said Cuomo.

Skelos said he expects the budget to restore around $250 million of the governor's proposed $1.5 billion cut in school funding. A Senate source told NY1 that means city schools will see almost $100 million restored to the proposed $580 million cut.

Sources also said funding will be restored to private schools for the deaf and blind, as well as Title 20 funding, which funds senior centers in the city.

Silver would not confirm the amount but said he hopes it will mitigate teacher layoffs.

“New York City will get its fair share of restorations,” said the speaker.

Even with all the optimistic talk, the governor said, dollar-wise, they were still a "relatively significant" amount apart.

“If you don’t have an agreement, than basically you have nothing. Good progress? Yes, no doubt,” said Cuomo.

Staff members will be working throughout the weekend.

If a deal is not reached by the April 1 deadline, the governor said on April 2 he will force the Legislature to vote on his budget through emergency extender bills -- something lawmakers want to avoid.

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