Another day passed in Albany yesterday without Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and the two leaders of the Legislature reaching an agreement on a budget plan.
After a four-hour private meeting with Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, D-Queens, and state Senate Majority Leader Ralph Marino, R-Muttontown, Gov. Cuomo said at a press conference that the Senate remains far apart from himself and the Assembly on the terms of a gap closing plan for either fiscal 1992 or fiscal 1993.
Gov. Cuomo, who recently decided not to enter the 1992 pesidential race because of the state budget crisisk also lambasted Sen. Marino, calling him "irresponsible" for suggesting during the meeting that the projected $875 million fiscal 1992 gap could be rolled into fiscal 1993 which begins April 1.
In his own statement, Sen. Marino retorted that the Democrats have "offered nothing but fiscal gimmicks and one-shot revenues that Wall Street credit raters have warned could lead to a downgrading of the state's credit rating."
More than a week ago, the Assembly passed its own $875 million gap closing plan for fiscal 1992. The Assembly and Gov. Cuomo have come to an agreement on that version of the fiscal 1992 package and elements of a fiscal 1993 plan, which includes $1.1 billion Medicaid and welfare spending reductions and some school aids cuts.
But the Senate has stadfastly refused to support that plan, instead preferring their own 15-month, $4.5 billion gap closing plan for fiscal 1992, which ends March 31, and fiscal 1993.
The Senate's plan offers $1.6 billion of Medicaid and welfare spending cuts and refuses to allow mid-year school aid cuts.
The budget logjam has prompted Gov. Cuomo to repeatedly warm Senate lawmakers that their inaction on the budget may precipitate a drop in the state's credit ratings, although bond rating agencies yesterday went to great lengths to say they have not interjected themselves into the budget process and have not issued any ratings ultimatum.
On Friday, after Gov. Cuomo called the Republican-controlled Senate to a special session during which the Senate Finance Committee rejected his $875 million gap closing plan for fiscal 1992, he said those lawmakers were wrong to think they could confidently act latter than sooner on the budget and still avoid a downgrade.
"That is absolutely wrong," he said in statement. "It could happen at any moment, especially if there is further evidence of inability to agree on the part of any of the parties."
The state's rating was last lowered in June 1990, when Moody's Investors Service sliced its rating on state general obligation bonds to A from A1.
Standard & Poor's Corp. in March had dropped its rating on those bonds to notches to A from AA-minus.
In lowering the boom, both agencies cited the state's dismal fiscal management and its chronic budget problems.
Yesterday, officials from both rating agencies distanced themselves from the budget politics roiling negotiations.
"We are not making explicit warnings or deadlines," said Daniel Heimowitz, an executive vice president and director with Moody's. "It is inappropriate for any side to be speaking for us. We are not injecting ourselves into the budget discussions.
"However, we are truly concerned about the long-term credit outlook for the state because of the chronic and repeated nature of the deficits and the lack of a consensus with the budget problems," he said. "I think it is fair to say that we are looking at an assessment of where they stand, given the repeated budgetary problems and the potential for not getting prompt action."
Hyman Grossman, a managing director with Standard & Poor's, said, "All the politicians are using us. It is all political posturing."
He said the agency has not set any deadlines for the completion of a state gap closing plan.