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Lawmakers appear on the same page as budget vote nears

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Erie County
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Tuesday's budget session of the Erie County Legislature may go very swiftly, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle appear united.
Budget sessions vary from year to year. Some have started at two in the afternoon and finished up around four the next morning. Others go much quicker.

This year, Legislature Chairman John Mills is suggesting the budget might pass unanimously. This compares to other years of great acrimony.

At least 80 percent of the budget is mandates, meaning there is little room to make major changes once money for Medicaid and welfare is set aside.

On Thursday, legislators made some changes in the $1.7 billion spending plan, with most involving a few thousand dollars here and there for cultural or community agencies, although the County Attorney's office gets an extra million dollars to deal with foreclosures.

Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo does not expect any fireworks.

 "They were approved at the Finance and Management Budget Committee and I think we will have a relatively uneventful meeting," Lorigo predicted.

"It's a pretty sound budget, " says Mills. "We tweaked it a little bit and got together with the County Executive and Tim Callan from his budget office. It's a pretty tight budget, so it's going to be, I think, passed unanimously and the county executive has agreed to sign it."

Lorigo does say there would be a big announcement Tuesday, but will not say what it might be. There are whispers of change at the top of the Legislature, as members prepare for another election year.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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