By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Framework.
It's the word reporters, lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are all hot on this week to describe the coming point in the budget talks when the sides will announce a budget deal. As in, the framework of a budget deal.
They can't really say "final deal'' because there are always bumps in the road during the period of time between when a framework deal is announced and when the fiscal staffs have one last round of editing to make sure no one is trying to pull a fiscal fast one in the complex wording that can make up a budget.
"Framework'' is a term that has come and gone over the years. At one point at the Capitol, the sides liked "conceptual.'' Then there was the short-lived "virtual'' period. And there was the year one legislative leader used the term "virtual conceptual'' to describe a budget deal before the actual budget bills were printed.
For those keeping track, budget bills must be introduced before Monday at midnight if they are to go through the legally required -- though often violated -- three-day bill aging process for a vote on Thursday, the day when lawmakers are hoping to leave Albany for the religious holiday period.
So, here's hoping someone -- anyone -- will toss out "framework'' after this morning's four-men-in-a-room budget talks with the governor and legislative leaders.
UPDATE: Rest easy, no framework deal today, legislative leaders reported this morning after their meeting with Cuomo. The betting among reporters and lawmakers seems to be split around a framework deal announcement on Sunday evening or Monday morning with budget bills ready for passage starting on Thursday. That all assumes no fiscal blow-ups.