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Budget delay ongoing as Paterson revenue bill rejected

ALBANY - The budget standoff continued here Tuesday with lawmakers refusing to introduce a revenue bill from Gov. David A. Paterson and the State Senate scrapping plans to reconvene Wednesday.

Hoping to complete the budget that's now 105 days late, Paterson submitted legislation raising $900 million in taxes, including a temporary suspension of the sales-tax exemption on clothing and shoe purchases under $110. The bill also would cap increases in local property taxes and permit SUNY and CUNY to set tuition - issues opposed by the Assembly.

A rival bill from the legislature that doesn't include the 4 percent tax cap and SUNY/CUNY provision passed the Assembly on July 1, but wasn't taken up by the State Senate. Both have adjourned but could return to the Capitol later in the year.

The Senate's Democratic majority had hoped to reach a compromise with the Assembly and Paterson by Wednesday on SUNY/CUNY and a reserve fund in case New York doesn't get $1 billion in Medicaid funding. Such agreement is needed for Senate passage of the final budget bill. The upper chamber now hopes to meet next week.

Paterson Tuesday blasted lawmakers for refusing to introduce his bill. Noting New Jersey's adoption of a 2 percent cap on yearly property tax hikes, he accused the Senate and Assembly of "scoffing at and ignoring the wishes of 80 percent of New York's population . . . who would like a property tax cap."

Paterson's bill lay in 5-inch high stacks on the floor outside Senate and Assembly offices.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said he was under no obligation to accept Paterson's legislation: "The governor is not constitutionally empowered unilaterally to restart or reconfigure the state budget process at this time." Silver noted his house had finished adopting the $134.4-billion budget.

Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Senate Democrats, called Paterson's bill "another un-negotiated press release."

The Senate's Republican minority, led by Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre, questioned the governor's commitment to capping property taxes. Their spokesman, Scott Reif, recalled Paterson's criticism after the Senate adopted a cap before 2009, when the GOP controlled the Senate.

Such bickering appeared to dismay the governor, who called the legislature "dysfunctional." He told Newsday, "I'm not interested in talking to them [about the budget]."


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