State Senate Shelves Budget Battle Until After Holiday

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010  |  Updated 9:02 PM EDT
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State Senate Shelves  Budget Battle Until After Holiday

AP

Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, left, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, right, talk to reporters about the state budget at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday, June 23, 2010. New York's leaders are turning to the sales tax and other taxes and fees to balance a budget that is nearly three months late.

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New York's Senate gave another twist to the ongoing budget battle by shelving the final budget bill hours before it was to be considered and putting off further action until after the July 4 holiday.

Senate Democratic leader John Sampson says he now agrees with Gov. David Paterson that the state needs a contingency plan in case $1 billion in Medicaid funding never comes from Washington.

Sampson denied that he pulled the revenue bill because as many as three Democrats threatened to vote against it, defeating the last bill needed to close the budget now three months late.

The members have demanded action on a bill to allow public universities in their districts to set their own higher tuition rates, a proposal supporters say would allow them to grow unfettered by Albany.

"It's not a question of folding," Sampson said. "My members have a concern ... New Yorkers can expect a budget relatively soon."

Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat, wouldn't say why he was suspending the final budget vote now, after ignoring Paterson's earlier calls for a Medicaid contingency plan, a public universities plan, and a property tax cap. He named each of those items as issues he plans to negotiate with Paterson and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver before the budget action resumes.

There was no immediate response from the Assembly, which had planned to finish its budget bills Thursday and go home for the summer.

Government will not shut down without the revenue bill. But lawmakers who have have seen nearly $20,000 in pay delayed since the April 1 deadline to pass a budget will have to go longer without it as the budget remains open.

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