ALBANY—Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith clarified his position on budget conference committees, saying in a statement he "has always intended to hold conference committees as part of this year's budget process."
"Because of the severity of the fiscal crisis, we intend to concentrate on clearly determining the areas where we have an agreement, announcing it openly and publicly in conference committees and then using our time in the conference committees to discuss and resolve those differences," he said.
Yesterday, Smith told reporters "there's a lot of things that we agree on, and really not opposing positions."
"If so, the leaders will deal with it," he said.
Good-government advocates were not pleased with the idea of leaders hammering out a budget themselves.
"I think it's indefensible. Secret government is bad government," Blair Horner, legislative director for NYPIRG told me a few hours ago. "I'm hoping they back off and they decide—it's the public's money, they're here to represent the public. We should know what they're doing."