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Paterson vetoes 6,681 budget items

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson’s administration on Wednesday gave New York lawmakers three stacks of paper comprising 6,681 budget items he vetoed last week, including millions of dollars in cuts to education, saying the state can’t afford the extra spending.

The biggest rejections are $419 million in aid to public schools and $91 million for higher education, mainly tuition assistance and community college funding. He also rejected $180 million to $190 million in pork barrel grants carried over from last year, money that legislators mainly give out to local nonprofit groups.

“The governor is not negotiating on his vetoes,” spokesman Morgan Hook said Wednesday.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Wednesday he and others in that chamber’s Democratic majority were “deeply disappointed that the governor does not share the Legislature’s goal of sparing our schools from the most devastating cuts and ensuring that our higher education system remains accessible to all New Yorkers.”

Silver said they were “saddened” that Paterson “chose to renege” on prior years’ commitments of funding support for non-profits and community organizations that care for children and the elderly, run free clinics, counsel crime victims and provide other vital services.

The governor and legislative leaders remain collectively short of one remaining piece of this year’s budget, another revenue bill. Until that’s finished, lawmakers aren’t getting paid.

Shortly before adjourning last week, the Assembly passed a revenue measure to raise what it estimated at $869 million this year and $1.77 billion next year through various tax adjustments.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader John Sampson said the budget was essentially done through a series of passed bills, with the revenue bill the one outstanding issue.

Negotiations on that are possible. Legislators, all of whom face re-election in November, could return sometime this summer, possibly as early as next week.

The total budget, which was due April 1, is estimated at about $136 billion.