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Latest New York State Budget Ever

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – As of Wednesday, the state Legislature and Governor Pataki will have officially presided over the latest state budget in history.

It's all over but the fingerpointing. At 2:07pm, New York's 20th straight late budget will become its latest-ever budget. That is when the previous record for futility, set in 1997, will be surpassed. The moment will arrive not with state legislators frantically trying to avoid this dubious distinction, but with the legislative chambers in Albany empty. Lawmakers out of session until Monday.

Before they left town on Monday, legislators approved their 12th emergency spending bill for the fiscal year that began April 1, a $23.2 billion measure that represents about one-fourth of all state spending this year.

The emergency spending bill does include a provision that keeps the Tuition Assistance Program -- or TAP -- whole through the fall semester. Governor Pataki had again proposed to delay a third of a student's TAP award until graduation, which would serve as an incentive to improve graduation rates and provide quick cash to the state's general fund.

TAP provides financial aid for 310,000 public and private college students in New York based on their families' financial need. The New York Public Interest Research Group says maintaining TAP as is is a step in the right direction.