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Albany Leaders Indicate State Budget Deal May Be Near

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With the state budget due next week, Capitol watchers are optimistic that lawmakers are on track to meet their April 1 deadline. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Close, but no cigar. That's the message from legislative leaders who have been meeting with Governor Andrew Cuomo behind closed doors to lock down a final budget agreement for the fiscal year that starts April 1.

"It's really everything," said Jeff Klein, the leader of the state Senate's Independent Democratic Conference. "It's the property tax and renter relief. It's universal pre-k. It's the charter school issues. A lot of them. We're very, very close to an agreement on everything."

One of the outstanding issues is protections for New York City charter schools that are being sought by the governor and the two Senate leaders. That could include giving the facilities funding and provisions to address concerns about charter schools sharing space with public schools.

Sources tell NY1 that universal pre-kindergarten programs, a priority for Mayor Bill de Blasio, will be funded with $340 million statewide, $300 million of which will be dedicated to New York City.

"We have reached a lot of thoughts of what we'd like to see in an overall budget," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "Everybody understands that nothing happens until everything happens. That's it."

An announcement of a deal had been anticipated Thursday afternoon, but that's now more likely to happen Friday morning.

"It's really just checking in with the governor, a lot of our staff that are working through technical language to make sure everything's going and to make sure there are no roadblocks," said Dean Skelos, the leader of the state Senate's Republican Conference.

Another issue is the Public Trust Act, an ethics reform package being pushed by the governor. The issue gained more attention on Wednesday after the FBI raided the offices of Assemblyman William Scarborough of Queens.

"The Public Trust Act is being discussed. Again, very close to an agreement on that," Klein said.

In order to meet the April 1 deadline, the agreement would need to be locked down and the budget bills would need to be printed on Friday. That's because all bills in Albany need to age for three days before they can be voted on, which paves the way for a vote in both houses on Monday, March 31.

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