State Budget Vote Faces Delay As Senator Falls Ill

Senate Republicans say they will offer about 15 amendments to the budget

Voting on the New York state budget is being delayed because a Democratic senator felt ill and has left the chamber for tests at a hospital.
Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Bronx Democrat, is expected to return later in the afternoon Tuesday, but Democrats have suspended the session until she's back.
Her absence would leave the Democrats with only a one vote margin to pass the $131.8 billion budget in a party-line vote.
Republicans say they will vote in a bloc against it.
For the budget to be passed on time, a major goal of Democrats, the budget bills must be passed by midnight.

Earlier Tuesday, New York's Republican senators emerged from a closed-door meeting with a plan to try to amend the $131.8 billion state budget plan.
Senate Republicans say they will offer about 15 amendments to the budget, which includes $7 billion in new and higher taxes and fees and an increase in spending of nearly 9 percent.  It also includes an 8.7% spending increase.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos says the budget is a job killer and anti-family.
Democrats say the budget mostly uses federal stimulus money rather than state dollars and will set New York on the right fiscal track.
The current budget includes restoration of some health and education cuts Paterson once argued were essential, and it overhauls the state income tax system so wealthier earners are taxed at a higher rate. That change, and other taxes and fees, are expected to add up to $7 billion.

The budget also filled a $17.7 billion deficit that Paterson said Monday could deepen by as much as $4 billion, requiring him and legislators to recraft it midyear.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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