By Joseph Spector
ALBANY Legislative leaders emerged from a closed-door meeting Thursday with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying that budget negotiations continue and that they will support Cuomo's plan to let local governments smooth out their pension costs.
Cuomo proposed in his 2013-14 budget plan to allow local governments and schools spread out the spikes in pension costs over 25 years.
"All of us think it's important to help our local governments as best as we can," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and the state Teacher's Retirement System would have to sign off on the deal, but neither has done so yet.
Some local government leaders said they support Cuomo's plan, but Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and some fiscal conservatives has been outspoken against the proposal, saying it would lead to higher future costs for municipalities.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, told reporters that the measure would be optional for governments and schools.
"That's the position taken by some mayors, other mayors have different positions. It's a choice that elected officials have to make locally," Skelos said.
The lawmakers said they were close to reaching an agreement on an on-time state budget and hoped to reach a deal by week's end.
Cuomo introduced a $136 billion spending plan Jan. 22, and the sides are trying to get a deal by March 21 -- when they are scheduled for a two-week spring recess.
The state's fiscal year starts April 1.