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DiNapoli: Recession showed weaknesses in state budget

ALBANY - State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has proposed major reforms in the state budget process.

He said Tuesday that structural changes are needed to avoid routine multibillion-dollar deficits even when revenue is strong.

The Democrat said the recession showed the weaknesses of the budget that funds most state and local public services.

He said restructuring is needed to better balance spending and revenue, to avoid one-shot gimmicks to raise cash, and to survive a big drop in revenue from Wall Street.

He said more borrowing is the least desirable option.

But more borrowing is now under consideration in talks between the governor and State Legislature.

DiNapoli said a better approach is clear and, so far, rarely taken: Spend only the amount raised in revenue.

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. David A. Paterson said spending is the state's top problem and it must be curbed or capped before resorting to borrowing.

The current deficit is projected at $2 billion.

The state budget due April 1 includes a deficit approaching $9 billion in a $130-billion spending plan.

On Monday, Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch denied a press report that he has developed a multiyear plan to right the state's finances that includes billions of dollars in borrowing.

- AP

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