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Leaders meet to resolve state budget dispute, conference committees scheduled

By Mark Scott

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-904171.mp3

Albany, NY – A public meeting held by Governor David Paterson and legislative leaders on the late state budget Tuesday was less contentious than one held a week ago. And there appeared to be some progress on resolving the nearly two-month-old budget dispute.

The leaders of both houses agreed to begin conference committee meetings on Thursday to discuss ways of closing the less than $3 billion that remain of a $9.2 billion deficit.

Paterson and the leaders discussed the ongoing stalemate that is keeping 55 state parks and historic sites closed. Paterson says the six million dollars needed to reopen the parks represents just a small fraction of the total state budget. But he challenged lawmakers to identify where that money will come from before he'll agree to their reopening.

Another issue discussed Tuesday was meeting a June 1st deadline to lift the cap on charter schools to improve the state's application for federal Race to the Top education funding.

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