Kolb Adopts a New Tone; Skelos Doesn’t

ALBANY—It looks like Brian Kolb, the new Assembly minority leader, is adopting a much more conciliatory tone toward the majority Democrats than that of his Senate counterpart—or his predecessor in the job.

Here, for example, is what he said at an open leaders meeting this afternoon—Kolb's first—on David Paterson's proposal for a spending cap.

"If you're looking for a recommendation from me, I think we need to set up a process immediately to get all of the parties at the table, get their ideas," he said. "Let's identify what the real, real sticking points are, but figure out what we can get done and move those things off the table.

"I don't think people want finger pointing, they actually want solutions. We can't do anything about the past. All we can do is move forward now."

Contrast that with the remarks of Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos at the same meeting. Speaking just before Kolb, he used the opportunity in front of the press to blast the M.T.A. bailout bill expected to come to a vote today, which he said is an "unfunded mandate" and based on a "job tax."

"The most important property tax relief program, the STAR rebate, was cut from the budget," Skelos said, noting Democrats voted down an amendment to put it back in. He said the budget contained $8 billion in new taxes (prompting Larry Schwartz, Paterson's top aide, to simply shake his head in the background).

He pressed on: "The question is, where will it end? It's ironic that you're talking about mandate relief today."

As for the idea of a spending cap, it's not there yet. Paterson ended this meeting by calling for future meetings.

Kolb Adopts a New Tone; Skelos Doesn’t