Senate to "Work to Last Minute" for On-Time Budget

By MICHAEL GORMLEY
|  Friday, Mar 26, 2010  |  Updated 6:51 AM EDT
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Senate to "Work to Last Minute" for On-Time Budget

AP

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As Gov. David Paterson planned bare-bones emergency spending for when the current state budget expires next week, the Senate's Democratic majority promised to work to the "last minute'' to get an on-time budget, possibly even into their vacation.

"There will be screaming from all around the state, from school districts and from local governments, because they aren't going to get their money,'' Paterson told WOR's "John Gambling Show'' on Thursday.

When school districts and local governments are upset with Albany, they pressure their local Assembly and Senate members.

Senate Conference Leader John Sampson said the Senate wouldn't reject Paterson's emergency plan or challenge its severity because rejecting it would shut down government. But he won't consider it until it's clear the full budget won't be in place by the April 1 deadline.

"We're working,'' he told reporters Thursday, saying his Democrats will work until the "last minute'' for an on-time budget.

He wouldn't say whether that last minute could be next week, during the scheduled Passover-Easter break that will consume the last three weekdays before the budget is due.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said his chamber will pass Paterson's emergency spending bills Friday, but that doesn't mean he's given up striking an on-time budget deal.

But there are no plans for the Assembly to be in session next week.

Negotiations "are ongoing, they are difficult, they are slow,'' Silver said. "This is a difficult economic climate, but they are continuing.''

Paterson said his austerity measures will put pressure on the Legislature to agree on a budget, while saving the state money.

He predicted lawmakers will spend the next several days making "denials,'' saying they will "spin up'' their projected revenues and argue that Paterson's cuts are too deep. The result, he said, will be a "phony'' budget.

"That's why you find in September and October legislatures all over the country coming back to their capitals to address out-year gaps,'' Paterson said.

I figure you're already doing the playground jail and the arrests in the Newark boys' case, but let me know if you're not!

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