New York lawmakers adopt budget on time

Budget bills sit on a legislator's desk in Budget bills sit on a legislator's desk in the Assembly Chamber before session in Albany. The Assembly is expected to begin final legislative approval of the state budget. They will try to finish by sunset but could have to work into Friday. The Senate is finished after debating billions of dollars in public spending during a session that lasted until 4 a.m. Wednesday. (March 28, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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ALBANY -- New York lawmakers have adopted a budget on time for the third consecutive year, a sign, they said, that shows government is functioning.

It's the first time New York has had three straight timely budgets in 30 years.

"We are putting years of dysfunction behind us and delivering a third consecutive on-time and fiscally responsible budget," Senate co-leader Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) declared Friday.

The Assembly approved the final bill that encompasses New York's spending plan at a minute before midnight Thursday, after debating more than 12 hours and recessing to allow some members to attend Catholic Mass. The Senate approved the budget Wednesday.

Overall, the 2013-14 spending plan would increase spending by less than 2 percent, to about $135 billion. The total increases to $142 billion when federal aid for superstorm Sandy is included. The state's fiscal year begins Monday.

Some of the budget highlights include a 5 percent increase in school aid, a minimum-wage hike, an extension of the so-called millionaires' tax, an array of business tax cuts and a $350 rebate for families with at least one child. Families will receive the "tax relief" checks in 2014, an election year.

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"This is a budget all New Yorkers can be proud of," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.

Although most legislators voted for the budget package, some rank-and-file members railed about the state providing $54 million to keep the Buffalo Bills from relocating and offering tax credits aimed at luring "The Tonight Show" to New York from Los Angeles. They decried a $90-million reduction in state funds for developmentally disabled programs and called the $350 checks an election-year gimmick.

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