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State budget deal reached despite governor’s vetoes

The vetoes came as pressure mounted for the Legislature to pass the first on-time budget in more than 20 years. Under threat of dozens of vetoes, legislators met with Pataki late in the evening to hack through a last-minute standstill.The meeting was an unexpected development, despite previous warnings from Pataki that he was dissatisfied with the Legislature's high budgetary spending. Peter Constantakes, spokesman for the Division of the Budget, said the late night meetings were more of a last-minute touch-up to several budget items to ensure the budget passed on time."There weren't any open committee meetings that the public could see because the veto deadline was Tuesday and they needed to get it done," he said. "Everybody in the Legislature was kept aware of what was going on."After the $1.06 billion budget was finalized, both the legislative and executive branches claimed satisfaction with the outcome, officials said. The governor ended up accepting many of the Legislature's spending proposals.Pataki vetoed three legislative items, however, two in the Capital Defenders Office and one in the New York State Energy, Research and Developoment Authority.The Assembly's decision to block death penalty legislation early this month made additional $6.1 million in funding to the Capital Defenders Office inappropriate, said Constantokes. The reduction in funding amounts to a 30 percent decrease. He also vetoed a provision making the funds available if the death penalty is re-established by June 2005, claiming the item represents an unconstitutional alteration of an executive budget appropriation.Pataki also vetoed a NYSERTA change that would place the alternative energy research organization under the control of the legislation by putting utility fees used to fund the program into the general fund, as opposed to keeping the funds separate. In a news conference, the day after the completed budget was rolled out, Pataki told reporters he was extremely pleased with the final version"On March 31, I was able to say we had the first on-time budget in 21 years," he said. "And today I am able to say that it is a good budget."

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