Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, after meeting solo with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said: “We’re making progress, and I’m still very optimistic that we can close down things today.”

Skelos couldn’t say why Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wasn’t at the closed-door get together, adding: “I don’t know if he was invited.”

This smells like a divide-and-conquer strategy to me. Assembly Democrats say the speaker is very concerned about the possibility that Cuomo will cut a deal with the Senate Republicans and leave him scrambling.

Asked if the speaker is still cooperating with the other two men in the room, Skelos replied: “We are working with the governor and hope to have a budget today.”

He also said there are “loose ends” that still remain to be tied up, but school aid is “pretty much closed down” with a tentative agreement to restore some $250 million worth of the $1.5 billion Cuomo cut.

Silver told reporters he wasn’t aware that Skelos and Cuomo were meeting, insisting: “I have no sticking point with anybody; it’s very close.” The speaker also said he’s “in tandem” with the governor on the budget.