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Cuomo to work with local officials on fiscal crisis

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, under pressure from local government and school officials, now says he will join their discussion to address the fiscal crisis facing cities, counties and their taxpayers.

Cuomo recently met with some local officials to build support for his proposal to change the binding arbitration law that guides labor disputes, requiring mediators to consider taxpayers' ability to pay when awarding judgments to public workers.

"Their situation with the police and fire contracts is a specific that is begging that larger problem," Cuomo said on a radio show last week. "I want to use it as an opportunity to talk about the larger problem of distressed communities and governments and how the state can help."

The comment was welcomed by those who have long sought a summit with Cuomo. Local government and school officials had sought more tools from Albany to reduce their costs and avoid raising property taxes.

Cuomo's spokesmen declined to comment about his statement when questioned by The Associated Press.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said of Cuomo's new willingness to talk about the issue. She was appointed by Cuomo to be the co-chairwoman of the state Democratic Party and has led the effort to get Cuomo to hold a summit on the fiscal crisis.

When Miner raised the issue in February, Cuomo's director of operations, Howard Glaser, responded critically on an Albany radio station.

"Syracuse wants somebody else to solve that problem," he said then. "If you're unwilling or unable to solve a problem in fiscal management in a city, there's a mechanism for that: You ask the Legislature to create a financial control board, and the financial control board will solve the problem for you."

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