ALBANY, NY (WKBW) -- For the first time in more than a month Governor Paterson and legislative leaders met publicly to discuss the overdue New York State budget.
The meeting quickly turned testy though with Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos claiming Republicans have been shut out of the process because Democrats have refused to call conference committees so the two houses can discuss their differences.
"It's a charade. It's a charade," said Skelos, "It's avoidance."
"Senator, the charade is by you," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver fired back.
Governor Paterson's exasperation showed when he questioned why lawmakers won't vote on his proposal that would balance the budget without borrowing. "Could each of you tell me why you couldn't put the budget on the floor and vote on it right now and we'll be out of here today? You won't even have to have any conference committees," said Gov. Paterson.
"We want conference committees," replied Senate Majority Leader John Sampson.
At that point Paterson rested his head in his hands and said, "Oh Scotty beam me up!"
The issue of closing state parks came up again when Senator Sampson suggested they find a way to get parks open again by Memorial Day, but Paterson says opening parks will require sacrifice somewhere else. "Show me where the resources are and I'll put it in the budget, but it is irresponsible of me even if I'm the most unpopular person in the state to start putting add-backs," says Gov. Paterson.
The goal is to close a $9.2 billion dollar hole in the budget. The governor called another meeting with the same legislative leaders for next Tuesday and that coincides with the Democrats' state convention. The governor says lawmakers' priority should be the budget right now and not conventions.