Legislature passes most of state's budget

(AP) - New York's Senate and Assembly on Mondaypassed the biggest bills needed to finish the state budget that wasdue April 1, but Gov. David Paterson's threat of vetoes means thelong fight will likely have at least one more round. Approval of two budget bills was uncertain in the Senate whenthree members of the Democratic majority indicated they mightwithhold their votes to protest cuts to programs important to theirdistricts, but in the end all 32 Democrats held together. The Legislature will take up the revenue bill and two billspaying for the judiciary and Legislature's expenses which usuallypass without resistance. A more controversial change in a schoolaid bill to direct more money to property tax relief is expectedTuesday or Wednesday. The Legislature's plan would impose a smaller cut in aid topublic schools than first proposed, eliminate a sales tax exemptionon clothing and increase the tax credit for movie and TVproductions that film scenes in New York. The Legislature's plan, estimated at $136 billion, also includespolicy provisions that could affect New Yorkers for years. Itincludes counting prisoners as residents of their last address,most of which are in New York City. That could cost traditionallyRepublican upstate areas where prisons are located a state Senateseat in next year's realignment of election districts. It also would give gay couples who are legally married in otherstates the ability to file as married couples for tax purposes inNew York, where gay marriage is illegal. The tax issue, however,faced objection from Sen. Ruben Diaz, a Bronx Democrat andminister, who may be able to block the measure because Democratsneed all of their 32 members to pass budget bills. Diaz said theissue will resolved by Thursday.

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