2007_03_albany.jpgGovernor Spitzer and other state leaders finalized this year's budget, to the tune of $121.8 billion, just in time for tomorrow's deadline. While Spitzer has touted greater transparency with public process, the budget deal has been notable for negotiations taking place behind closed doors. The Times Union had Spitzer's opinion on the secrecy, "Do we all wish there had been more public articulation? You bet," but "said a 'wide chasm' between his plan and the Legislature's had to be bridged somehow." In other words, the Legislature didn't want to be steamrolled.

The NY Times found the wheeling-dealing amusing, given how some thought it was "a vintage performance in a Capitol long known for secrecy" since the governor wouldn't reveal what the actual deals were:

Beyond saying the bottle bill [for water bottle deposit] had been rejected, the governor would not reveal what had been decided. A New York Post reporter asked him, “With all due respect, what is the point of this press conference, then?”

“To tell you, well, first of all, you’ve been hanging out here for quite a while, these guys didn’t think they could sneak out the back door without being caught,” the governor said, referring to the lawmakers standing with him. “But the point of this press conference is to explain to you what we’ve been doing all day.”

“But you haven’t,” the reporter said.

“Sure we have,” Mr. Spitzer said. “We have told you we have reached consensus on critical and tough issues.”

Heh. Yesterday, the NY Post's Fred Dicker's column was titled Gov Steamrolled into a Big Softee.

Well, we do know that NYC will get 50 more charter schools, thought Schools Chancellor Joel Klein will not have as much power over opening them. Additionally, NYC public schools will have to lower their class size over the next few years. Other things included in the budget: $100 million towards stem cell research and property tax breaks for homeowners.