Malcolm Smith Welcomes Your M.T.A. Input

ALBANY—They're friends again.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith just emerged from a closed-door session with David Paterson to discuss the budget and M.T.A. deficit, for which Smith proposed a solution today that was met coldly by both Silver and Paterson.

"I wasn't critical of the plan," Silver told a few reporters. "I just said I think you can't lose sight of the capital needs, and the Senate's plan is short range and I believe that commuters and businesses need a long-range plan and a long-rage goal. I've spoken to the senator about that, and I really believe we need some certainty, that's all."

"We agree that there has to be a capital plan, as I said today," Smith continued. "This does not mean the M.T.A. can go without a capital plan."

I asked Smith if the pile-on worried him.

"This is a process where we all have one goal in mind: and that's to make sure that the M.T.A. will continue to move passengers and maintain the services," he replied. "That's the ultimate goal. Anyone's opinion about how we get there is wanted and accepted."

And for those of you following it, there's no consensus on whether to do one-house budgets and conference them or just work out a deal behind closed doors. Here's Silver's position on it:

"I think we're very clear. We have a time table. We know that one way or another we have to end the deliberative process by the end of the week, and either pass one house or being to prepare a two-house budget," he said.

Smith nodded.