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March 29, 2011

North Country lawmakers hope state budget is step in right direction

Concerns remain, but officials hope budget is step in right direction

PLATTSBURGH — North Country lawmakers are hoping the tentative state budget agreement will prove a step in the right direction.

"There's no new taxes, spending has been cut, and there is no new borrowing," Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said.

"Hopefully, this will help spur some economic growth, which would be good for the North Country."

DEVIL IN DETAILS

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have reached a tentative agreement on a $132.5 billion budget that features significant spending cuts.

The budget is due April 1, which is Friday, and lawmakers are hoping the deal is approved by then.

"I'm happy they have a budget agreement, but the devil is always in the details," said Clinton County Administrator Michael Zurlo.

Conference committees from both houses will meet this week to finalize the plan, and more details are expected to emerge as the week goes on.

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) said it is important to get a budget done on time this year. The state budget has been late many years going back to the 1980s.

"We need an on-time budget for everybody," Duprey said.

"As difficult as it might be, people need to know what it is."

CURTAILED SPENDING

While details of the spending plan were still being ironed out, Duprey said, she will be watching closely, especially at how prisons would be affected.

Cuomo's plan calls for a reduction of 3,700 beds in state correction facilities, but how that would be implemented had not been revealed yet.

"We are always concerned about that," Duprey said. "There have been no lists yet, but we will be reaching out to those we have to and keep a close eye on it."

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