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State Leaders Meet to Discuss Budget Issues

By Mark Scott

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-817621.mp3

Albany, NY – For the first time in decades, the so-called "three men in a room" who met in Albany Tuesday were all Democrats.

Governor David Paterson held his first official leaders meeting with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the new Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. Paterson released his proposed budget for the state's next fiscal year a month early in hopes of giving a jump start to closing a multi-billion dollar deficit. But uncertainty surrounding Senate leadership until January 7th delayed the process. At an Albany news conference Tuesday, Smith said they're now ready to act on reducing the current year's deficit of $1.7 billion.

Despite the delay, Paterson said he's pleased with the progress that is now being made.

Paterson says he offered to meet Tuesday with the two Republicans leaders in the Assembly and Senate to discuss the budget. He says he was turned down by Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos, who was apparently miffed that they weren't invited to the leaders meeting. Skelos later questioned Paterson's credibility when it comes to handling the state's budget problems and the Caroline Kennedy situation.

Click the audio player above to hear Mark Scott's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.