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State Legislature Approves Emergency Spending Bill

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Another round of emergency spending was approved by the State Legislature Monday. It includes vital state education aid for school districts across the state for the 2004-2005 academic year. But there is still no final state budget.

The emergency bill extends spending for another six weeks. It will provide $740 million more for schools districts. But lawmakers have still failed to deliver a final spending plan.

One member of the Western New York delegation says he is disgusted with the budget process. State Senator Byron Brown says he voted against emergency spending in protest of the late budget. He says while he supports education aid, lawmakers were given the bill just five minutes before a vote was taken.

"Maybe to reform the process, state government did need to shut down so people could take a step back and realize this process needs reform," Brown said. "I don't think it serves the public well to have members of the Legislature vote on something that is more than $23 billion and only have five minutes to look at it."

Brown says this emergency spending bill does not define the exact amount of funding each individual school district will receive. He says that means it is unclear if district's are getting more or less.

A spokesman for Governor Pataki says Monday's agreement was a significant breakthrough in the budget process. But he says more negotiating is needed before a final spending package can be passed.

The Legislature is now scheduled to return to session next Monday.