ALBANY—Dean Skelos says that he and his senators will "work our way through" Governor Paterson's proposals, but that he remains firm on his pledge not to cut school aid.
"We can't do mid-year cuts in education that are going to result in increased property taxes," Skelos said. "We're looking to protect our kids, to make sure they get a quality education, and we're also looking to protect the real property tax payers."
"I'm personally ruling them out. I don't think the conference is interested in doing those cuts, either," he said. Governor Paterson earlier proposed holding back $800 million of promised education aid.
The Republicans spent about two and a half hours behind closed doors in a well-catered room. There are no specific proposals from the Senate yet—Skelos parried a question about his own plans: "Where is Malcolm? Where is the speaker?"—but Skelos’ rhetoric seemed to be in line with the many interest groups who have already begun lobbying the governor.
"I don't see anything creative in this proposal. It's just hack away, hack away," he said. "I think we have to look at all cuts and all possibilities," including dipping into the state's Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund.
"The other thing we have to look at is our representatives in Washington," he said.