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New York ends 2009 with $1.2B in cash

FILE - Gov. David Paterson speaking at the

FILE - Gov. David Paterson speaking at the Vision Long Island Meeting at the Melville Marriott. (Nov. 20, 2009) Credit: Newsday / Maria Lopez

ALBANY - New York ended 2009 with $1.2 billion in cash, the lowest amount in 15 years but better than expected.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Tuesday that he had projected the state would close out Dec. 31 with $883.7 million, but an additional $358.9 million came into the treasury at the last minute.

The new funds included $129.8 million from a legal settlement by the Credit Suisse bank with the Manhattan district attorney's office, $17 million from the state Dormitory Authority, $17 million in drug reimbursements and $4.8 million in proceeds from American Indian-owned casinos.

New York's balance sheet also was helped by the postponement of $165 million in bills due on Dec. 31; only $640.5 million was paid on that day.

DiNapoli has concurred with the assessment of Gov. David A. Paterson that New York would have run out of cash last month if $750 million in payments to schools, counties and cities hadn't been delayed.

Paterson has pledged to send the school aid, STAR property-tax reimbursements and other payments later this month once the treasury is replenished with tax collections from bonuses paid to Wall Street investment bankers.

Matt Anderson, a spokesman for Paterson's budget office, said Tuesday, "the hope and expectation is that sufficient funds are available." He said taxes on the bonuses would be coming in over the next few days "and once we see the trend then determinations can be made."

The state "pinched pennies and squeaked through December," said DiNapoli, a former assemblyman from Great Neck. "If revenue collections are lower than expected in January and February, the state will have an even bigger problem to deal with in March," he said, referring to $14 billion in payments due then.

The general fund, a pool of money used to pay many bills, ended the year with a smaller deficit than DiNapoli had projected - $577 million instead of $600 million. Still, the red ink was a first in modern budget history.

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