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The state bar association and health-care groups panned his idea to cap malpractice awards. Legislators bashed him on teacher layoff laws and hospital cuts. A surprise protest by advocates for the poor - who want Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to change his mind and keep a tax surcharge on the wealthy - shut down part of the Capitol.

And in a sign that the criticism struck a nerve, a Cuomo aide harshly lashed out at two detractors.

But it's also a signal that with the budget deadline approaching March 31, the Capitol is about to become a pressure cooker, especially with so many cuts proposed and union contracts expiring April 1.

"The heat is ratcheting up," said Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari (D-Cohoes). "It will get a lot hotter before it cools off."

- Yancey Roy in Albany

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