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Few Clouds 42° Good Afternoon

EDITORIAL: Legislature needs a reality check on budget

Hope glimmered for a moment, but now the momentum for breaking through the state budget impasse is gone. Legislative leaders pulled a parliamentary fast one, halting Gov. David A. Paterson's run toward the finish line. Week by week, he had forced through nearly 70 percent of the new budget by tying it to a threat to shutter state government.

He was pretty effective as one man in a room.

Yes, the legislature has a constitutional role in budgeting. But its members have all but abdicated it, by coming up with wholly unrealistic plans aimed at pleasing contributors and winning elections. The proposal from Assembly and Senate Democrats is billions out of balance. They chose to spend first and figure out how to pay later. Their budget is pure puff.

Paterson should hold firm and continue to veto this fantasy spending. Senate Republicans are right to back him up - even though their alternatives are equally fictitious. Vital goals for this budget now include a property tax cap and greater flexibility for SUNY. Sens. Brian Foley (D-Blue Point) and Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington) should hold out for these. And no budget should pass that fails to address a likely $1-billion hole in federal Medicaid money.

Right now, the governor's office is the only voice in Albany speaking, not for special interests, but for a reality-based budget for all New Yorkers. hN