Gov. George E. Pataki and his budget director said in interviews on Thursday that they had reservations about the two central initiatives of the Legislature's budget, calling a nearly $1.8 billion property tax cut package unconstitutional and saying a bonding deal for New York City schools would set a bad precedent in the use of state debt.
But Mr. Pataki was also restrained in his critique. Making his first public remarks on a budget deal the Legislature reached Tuesday night, he said, "I hope that we can reach an agreement consensually with the Assembly and Senate to bring down their spending and to protect the state's finances."
"If not, then I obviously have the constitutional power to exercise vetoes," he added. "I've done it in the past and if necessary I will do it now."
His budget director, John F. Cape, took a harder line in an interview, saying he was concerned about the structure of the complex bonding deal that would authorize $11.2 billion for school construction in New York City.
"I'm more concerned with the method than the amount," Mr. Cape said, adding that a $1.8 billion component of the deal, which would issue bonds for school construction aid through the state's Dormitory Authority, would be "a new precedent in terms of state debt management."
"What's next? Are we going to pay for municipal office buildings with state debt?" he said. "What about that monument in the park? Is that suddenly going to be a state debt problem?"
Mr. Pataki echoed those concerns, saying that although he supported giving the city that amount of school construction aid, "We just have to look at the technical structure of it to make sure it's appropriate, that is doesn't jeopardize the state's credit or in any way violate or run afoul of our historic debt-reform legislation we passed a few years back."
Legislative leaders and their top aides, who have been particularly critical of Mr. Cape, said the state had devised similar state bond deals recently. They did acknowledge, however, the unusual nature of the larger component of the school construction aid deal, which would use state school aid sent to New York City as a guarantee to pay off $9.4 billion in bonds issued by the city's Transitional Finance Authority.
Assembly Democrats argued that a court order for a multibillion-dollar infusion of funds for city schools required an aggressive response, far beyond what Mr. Pataki has been proposing.
"The C.F.E. case is unprecedented," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in an interview, referring to the court orders for school financing resulting from suits brought by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. "That's a liability of the state. They refuse to recognize that."
Mr. Cape also said the governor's staff believed that changes made to Mr. Pataki's original, more modest property tax relief plan were not constitutional. In a 2004 decision, the State Court of Appeals said the state Constitution forbade the Legislature from rewriting the governor's budget language.
"They just went into the governor's appropriation, they took out the cap, and substituted their own language for how the money would get spent," Mr. Cape said. "You can't do that. You've got to have a separately stated add that is subject to the governor's line-item veto."
The governor and the Legislature have until the week of April 10 to negotiate their differences. They continue to skirmish over even the size of the Legislature's budget, with Mr. Cape saying it was as high as $115 billion, not $112.4 billion to $113.4 billion the Legislature claimed.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno continued to fire away at Mr. Cape's accounting skills, suggesting on Thursday that Mr. Cape would have trouble even adding two plus two and was acting more like a lawyer than a budget director.
"Contrary to Senator Bruno's assertion, I'm not a lawyer," Mr. Cape said, adding, "Two plus two equals four."
Michael Cooper contributed reporting for this article.