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WNY State Lawmakers Assail Massive Spending Plan

By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-828789.mp3

Albany, NY – Republican state lawmakers - and at least one Western New York Democrat - are not willing to support the 2009 budget proposed by the state's Democratic leadership.

Western New York Republicans assailed the budget proposal calling it the worst ever they have seen. And they say the plan hurts Upstate the most. Republican Assemblyman James Hayes of Amherst said he will not vote for the budget. He said seven billion dollars in higher fees and taxes is no way to help people already hurting from the recession.

"It's an unmitigated disaster for Western New York businesses and families," said Hayes. "It will only make the recession in WNY deeper and longer and it will result in what I believe will be 800,000 jobs and have a devastating impact on the longterm economy in our region," said Hayes.

"It's a terrible budget."

But Hayes said it is not a done deal. He said people should contact their legislators and demand they vote against the $131.8 billion spending plan. And Hayes said he is urging his colleagues not to support it.

Other Democrats - including the three-top state leaders - agree it is a painful budget. But they say tough choices had to be made to close a $17.7 billion budget gap.

At least one Western New York Democrat said he too will vote no. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo said he has to vote his conscience.

"This budget spends too much and and lacks any real reform," said Hoyt. "I'm not sure if the votes are there otherwise."

Senator Antoine Thompson, Democrat of Buffalo, said the budget isn't popular - but it will pass.

"I'm the deputy majority whip in the Senate and I help count the votes," said Thompson. "The leaders said to make sure we had 32 votes and I believe we'll have 32."

Lawmakers began going through budget bills Monday and are expected to begin voting Tuesday. Wednesday is the deadline for having a new spending plan for 2009 in place.

Click the audio player above to hear Joyce Kryszak's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.