STATEWIDE -- The state budget remains under negotiations, but Governor Andrew Cuomo said the top issue is to find ways to reduce the property tax burden through his freeze plan.
"To me it is the challenge of the budget. Senate may have a different one. Assembly may have a different one. To me, it is the important thing in the budget," said Cuomo.
However, Cuomo has been willing to alter the proposal. On Thursday, Cuomo said he was open to broadening his property tax plan that would include local governments who have already capped their levy increases and then shared services.
Previously, Cuomo said his plan to allow for a rebate to property owners would only come to local governments that find ways to reduce spending after his freeze plan was adopted.
"Of course, because it is about reasonableness," he said.
It puts Cuomo closer in alignment to a proposal from Senate Republicans.
"With us the bigger the better. So we want to make sure there's property tax relief. That's what's strangling taxpayers outside of the city in particular," said Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos.
The Democratic-led Assembly, however, has rejected the property tax freeze in favor of a circuit-breaker mechanism, which ties tax increases to a household's income. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said everyone has important issues they want to air in negotiations.
Silver said, "It's a series of compromises. Nobody draws lines in the sand and as long as that doesn't happen. As long as there are no lines in the sand, we're more likely to succeed."
As for Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, he reiterated his push for renters tax credits as well.
"Everyone has to share in relief. Renters downstate and property owners and everyone in between," said IDC Leader Jeff Klein.
Cuomo met with the top leaders in the Legislature behind closed doors twice on Thursday. Outside, protesters raged against spending and tax cuts, with dozens arrested by New York State Police.