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JANUARY 1998

Legislative leaders say they'll try for an on-time budget

May use a conference committee to resolve differences early

The legislative leaders say they want to produce this year's budget on time -- and they may use the conference committee process to try to achieve that goal.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in separate news conferences on Tuesday that they are considering an effort to use a conference committee, a joint body composed of members of both houses, to hammer out a budget before the April 1 deadline.

The conference committee process has proven successful in resolving deadlocks on certain issues -- such as economic development power last year.

But Senator Bruno and Speaker Silver are already in disagreement over one key budget process issue -- with Bruno saying the two houses need to agree on a revenue estimate before they discuss a spending plan, and Silver saying the two topics can be negotiated concurrently.

The Senate, meanwhile, passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would keep the previous state budget in place if the Legislature misses the deadline.

January 14, 1998