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Five boroughs should be one state: Vallone

Vallone, who first introduced legislation for the five boroughs to become an entity separate from the state in 2003, said he recently brought the idea before the City Council for a second time and expected a hearing to take place in the near future."We give Albany $11 billion per year and get back pennies," he said. "We face a $2.8 billion deficit. You can either raise taxes or cut services, but I don't think we should do either. We should be getting more money back from the state, but that's not happening."Vallone said some legislators at the state and city level support seceding from the state, while city residents have also responded favorably to the idea. But he said Mayor Michael Bloomberg and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) have not supported the controversial bill."It's a huge move, but they don't seem ready to come on board yet," Vallone said. "Perhaps the mayor, after a few more visits to Albany, where he has to ask permission for just about anything - then he'll be on board."Bloomberg testified in Albany in late January, calling on state lawmakers to give the city a fair amount of tax returns. Vallone said there is currently no date for a future hearing on the bill. But City Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the council's Governmental Operations Committee, has said the bill would be discussed this year.The legislation calls for the creation of a commission to study the city's secession from the state. The commission would then recommend whether to put the issue to a referendum, Vallone said.The commission would also explore a variety of options, such as whether the city would become the 51st state or act as a district, much like Washington, D.C., he said.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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