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Silver tells Democrats budget conference process starts tonight

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver just told his colleagues in a closed-door Democratic conference that he expects the "mother ship'' -- the main legislative budget conference committee -- to meet at 7 tonight and the rest of the subject-area committees to start meeting Thursday.

Of course, that all depends on the Senate and its ability to get a one-house budget resolution introduced and passed today. Neither had  happened as 1 p.m. approached.

The conference committee process, which offers rank-and-file lawmakers fiscal crumbs to wrangle over given the size of the overall budget, does at least signal the beginning of the end of the budget negotiations. The "mother ship'' is the committee that features legislative leaders and a few of their appointees. The talks over the most controversial issues will, as ususal, be handled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders in secret over the next several weeks.

The Assembly this afternoon is due to pass its own-one house budget plan.

In the Senate, Republicans and a small group of breakaway Democrats -- who together control the chamber -- have been arguing over everything from the Dream Act, a campaign finance measure, property taxes and public school matters. Albany will know when those arguments end when the Senate puts out its one-house budget plan.

Whether that can all happen by 7 p.m. is unknown, though ambitious would be one word to describe the prospects.

UPDATE: Shocking, but plans made in Albany in the morning didn't quite turn out by the time the sun set. The Senate just broke for the evening and won't be back until 11am Thursday. Senate leaders were unable to agree on a budget resolution to move to the floor this evening, a document that lawmakers say will be intentionally vague and not include any budget bills as have been debated all afternoon in the Assembly. The budget conference committee process cannot start until the Senate adopts its budget resolution.

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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