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Springfield Gardens maintains watch on jail as Meeks blasts Bush’s budget

Meeks took a few minutes to criticize President George W. Bush's proposed 2007 budget, which he said would adversely affect low and middle income New Yorkers, of whom a disproportionate number are minorities.

Meeks said it was unconscionable for Bush to propose making tax cuts permanent while also cutting key job training, education and health care programs.

"Anyone in this room making over $300,000, you want this budget," Meeks said, as many of the estimated 75 residents scoffed. "It's a bad budget."

Meeks spent most of the evening updating residents on the status of a federal detention center in Springfield Gardens. The prison's owners, The Geo Group Inc., based in Florida, want to expand the facility from 215 to about 370 beds - a proposal that Meeks has vowed to stop.

Meeks said that federal officials have told him the expansion is on hold. Meeks, though, said that Geo clearly wants to expand and he plans to remain vigilant.

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