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Legislature Ends Session, 22 Arrested Protesting Lack of Action

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – Twenty-two people were arrested outside the State Capitol Tuesday during a protest against the Legislature's failure to reach an agreement on increasing education aid. Among those taken into custody were two Democratic state senators from Brooklyn and Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore.

"We had a rally, and then 20 people went and blocked the entrance to the Capitol," Rumore said. "We were arrested and booked. Our return date to be in court is next Tuesday."

Governor Pataki and legislative leaders have failed to agree on either a state budget or the overhaul of the state's education funding system. The Senate wrapped up its 2004 session Tuesday. But the Assembly was scheduled to reconvene Wednesday morning.

State government continues to operate through short-term, emergency spending bills.

Critics are calling the session six months of much talk but no action. Among those crying foul was Rachel Leon of Common Cause, who said the Legislature is "dysfunctional with a capital 'D.'"