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Albany Round-up

March 11, 2013

No drama in NY budget slated for early approval

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's budget battles have a colorful history of power plays, finger-pointing and deadlines missed by months. By comparison, this year's may be one of the dullest as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature head toward adopting a widely supported spending plan early and without drama.

"And that's good," said Elizabeth Lynam of the independent Citizens Budget Commission. "The track seems to be pretty greased for an early budget this year. It's another year where we don't have to look like the poster child for late budgeting."

The Senate and Assembly are expected to announce their proposed changes to Cuomo's $143 billion budget Monday or Tuesday, though closed-door negotiations among legislative leaders and the governor have been under way for weeks.

The budget is scheduled to be adopted by March 21, 10 days before it is due. Part of the pressure comes from the Legislature's Passover and Easter break, which begins March 22 and continues to April 14.

Cuomo has proposed a budget with about a 2 percent increase in state spending. It has no new taxes although he proposes to extend some business taxes that were supposed to expire and continue five years of annual increases in public college tuition. The current deficit is about $1 billion, compared with a $10 billion gap in Cuomo's first budget, in 2011.

"Our budget gaps are fairly reasonable by historic standards," said Lynam. "We think there is a lot to like in the budget proposal that the Legislature has in front of them and they should keep to it and pretty much keep spending growth restrained.

"It's not the time to say, 'We are done with all this and it's time to spend,'" she said.

The Legislature traditionally adds less than 1 percent the budget, usually in the areas that hit New Yorkers most such as school aid, taxes, fees and health care.

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