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Still no budget, $2.5 billion gap remains – QNS.com

Still no budget, $2.5 billion gap remains

With June approaching, there is still no sign of a budget deal, which is now almost two months late.

State legislators are up in Albany trying to come to an agreement on between $2.5 and $3 billion in deficits that remain from the $9.2 billion shortfall the state is facing this year.

“At this point, it’s inexcusable for us to be that far apart,” said Governor David Paterson, who held a public meeting with leaders from both parties in the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday, May 25. Paterson called the meeting to implore legislative leaders to come up with additional spending cuts that get the state closer to a balanced budget.

“The issue really comes to the fact that we’re going to have to tighten our belts further than we have to this point,” Paterson said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said that the legislators would have their staffs get working on ways to cut spending and set a deadline for Thursday afternoon to receive those reports.

State Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, who said his members would be staying in Albany for the remainder of the week, said that the body would begin conference committees to talk about the cuts, budget language and additional revenue streams.

Meanwhile, Republican Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos used his time to again talk about the need to get a hold of the out of control spending in Medicaid.

During the meeting, Paterson reiterated that he has been vehemently opposed to borrowing and said the legislators have spent too much time during the past two months talking about that option.

However, Paterson said he hasn’t taken borrowing off the table, but he would only consider it if there was a small gap that would help finalize a budget agreement.

One of the issues the leaders spoke about was trying to find ways to keep 41 state parks and 14 historic sites open.

“We need $5 million of savings that doesn’t exist already in other parts of the budget,” Paterson said. “If we get that, we’re ready to go.”

Paterson has set another leaders meeting for Tuesday, June 1, but he said he may call another one sooner depending on how the negotiations go during the week.

 

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