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Budget Battles Brewing for New Governor

March 14, 2008

Albany, NY - Even before he is sworn in as governor on Monday, New York's Lt. Gov. David Paterson is spending the weekend in a legislative supersession aimed at getting the state budget out in time for the April deadline. There may be some serious disagreements.

Paterson says his approach will have the same philosophy as outgoing Gov. Eliot Spitzer's initial proposals, but will differ in details.

"This is a budget negotiation. I don't want the inference to be drawn that if I make any change, that it implies some disagreement with Gov. Spitzer. One of the reasons we're negotiating is the understanding that we are all likely to change."

Karen Schimke with the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy says there are several trouble spots in the proposed executive budget, including increased local costs for public assistance and juvenile detention.

"One was a cost shift from state to local of 2 percent of public assistance costs. That has a substantial impact on the local counties. Secondly, the state was going to withdraw payment for detention services for juveniles, leaving the entire responsibility to the counties."

Schimke says another boiling point is a proposal for increased family assistance funding.

"There's the question of the 'flexible fund' for family services, which is paid for out of temporary assistance to needy families, above and beyond non-cash assistance. This is controversial, and I think we're going to see some discussion taking place."

Paterson has pledged to forge a compromise $100 billion budget with the legislature in time for its April 1 deadline, despite an expected shortfall of more than $4 billion.

Robert Knight/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NY