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State Lawmakers Work on Budget Agreement as Deadline Approaches

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The state budget deadline is rapidly approaching and leaders are huddling behind closed doors to reach an agreement. NY1’s Zack Fink takes a closer look at some of the major issues still being hashed out in his report.

State legislative leaders have been meeting with governor Cuomo to wrap up the fiscal year budget, which is due next week.

The top issues are a property tax cut being pushed by the governor and funding for universal pre-kindergarten.

"I think we are slowly but surely coming to an agreement on property tax relief, renter relief throughout the state. As well as making sure we have a full-funded universal pre-K program,” said state Sen. Jeff Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference.

Mayor Bill de Blasio put universal pre-K at the center of budget negotiations when he demanded Albany enact a tax on wealthier New York City residents to pay for it.

The tax idea has since been dropped after Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his own plan to fund universal pre-K statewide.

Sources say the figure currently being discussed is $300 million for pre-K in the city, a figure that comes close to the mayor’s plan.

"I think everybody is laying out their point of view and I've always said it’s about balance throughout the state. I think we are, in my opinion, moving in that direction,” said state Sen. Dean Skelos, leader of the Senate Republican Conference.

Last week, Skelos stormed out of a leaders meeting after clashing behind closed doors with Speaker Sheldon Silver over the universal pre-K number.

On Monday, Silver met separately with the governor. Klein and Skelos met with Cuomo earlier.

"You know, sometimes I think you accomplish more doing it separately. Last Friday, the senator was agitated about what was discussed,” said Silver.

Silver also maintains that the DREAM Act, which provides state tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants, is still on the table.

The DREAM Act failed in the Senate last week, but over the weekend the governor offered to put the DREAM Act in the budget in exchange for a tax credit program for school donations.

"I think that's something the governor put on the table, but you know I'm not sure that's a viable option,” said Silver.

Another key issue is charter schools and how much the state will do to protect them. Cuomo has said he feels strongly that charter schools need protections built into the state budget.

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