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Gov. Pataki and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, will take their budget battle to the 6 o'clock news tonight.

Pataki has requested five minutes of free air time on television stations throughout the state for his unprecedented budget address.

Silver said his five-minute rebuttal to the governor's remarks would be made available via satellite to television stations following Pataki's address.

All three Buffalo television stations plan to carry both statements starting at approximately 6:05 p.m., news directors said Wednesday.

It's the latest attempt by Pataki to force Assembly Democrats into offering a complete budget proposal and conclude budget negotiations.

Pataki said he hopes that effort will be aided by the Senate Republicans who plan to pass their own version of the budget by Friday.

"The Senate has had the courage to lay out their plan in the open, in the light of day," said Pataki, adding that his staff is still negotiating with the Senate over the final details of that plan. "It is so easy to complain that this isn't right (or) that isn't right. But that is not responsible when the law says we are supposed to have a budget by April 1."

Without a last-minute deal, the state will start its 1995-96 fiscal year Saturday without a budget. It would be the 11th straight year that has happened in New York.

Meanwhile, Deputy Assembly Speaker Arthur O. Eve, D-Buffalo, and others complained Wednesday that Pataki's budget plan would harm children by eliminating $1.65 million for programs to combat lead poisoning. Eve said the state is also losing nearly $6 million a year by failing to establish standards for the certification of lead-abatement contractors.

"Where is the Assembly's proposal? How much more do they want to spend? Where do they want to spend it? It is long since time for them to lay their cards on the table as the Senate has done, in the open, in the light of day," Pataki said.

While the Senate began passing parts of that plan Wednesday, Democrats claim the Senate GOP wants to spend more money and include more projects than its budget proposal would allow. The Democrats have indicated that they will not announce -- publicly or privately -- a complete budget plan but instead will use general budget goals in negotiating with the Republicans.

Those goals include restoring money to virtually all of the programs cut by Pataki. However, the Democrats still say the state can afford a tax cut that is more costly than the one proposed for the next two years by Pataki.

Silver has refused to say how much more money he wants to spend. He also claimed Wednesday not to know how much money he has proposed raising through new revenue sources. One of those sources is the collection of sales taxes on cigarette and gasoline sales on Indian reservations. Silver said $125 million could be raised, but Pataki said the matter needs more study.

Pataki spoke, however, of a lawsuit that may be filed by the State Association of Convenience Stores to force the state into collecting the sales tax on reservation sales. The state was given that right last year but has not begun the collections largely out of the fear that it would trigger violent protests by Native Americans.

After a 45-minute meeting with legislative leaders Wednesday, Pataki continued to harangue Silver for failing to produce a complete budget proposal. He also accused Silver of trying to divert attention away from the budget. Silver charged that the administration is spending too much money on office space in New York City and for demoting a budget aide who shared information with the Democrats.

Pataki initially refused to discuss either issue, claiming it deflected attention away from the budget. But he later denied that the budget aide, Eric Kuntz, had been moved to a new job because he gave information to Silver's staff.

The bad feelings between the Assembly and Senate were evident at the first-ever joint conference committee meeting. Legislators from both houses and both parties met for two hours to discuss their differences over how and where to raise the state speed limit from 55 to 65 mph.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, accused the Democrats of wasting six weeks to begin that process. The delay even included arguments over where the meeting should take place. The session ended with both sides deciding to have their staffs discuss the issue with transportation officials before meeting again.

Bruno conceded that the Republicans want to spend money on projects not included in the budget legislation now moving through the Senate. He predicted money for some of those projects will be added once a final budget is negotiated with the Assembly Democrats.

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