Silver, Sampson head to New York City to meet with governor

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It’s coming down to three men in a room. In New York City.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan and his counterpart in the Senate, John Sampson, D-Brooklyn are driving down to New York City this afternoon to meet with Gov. David Paterson in an attempt to develop a three-way budget agreement, said Travis Proulx, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats.

“Unfortunately the governor’s absence from Albany has forced the legislative leaders to travel to New York City to meet with him in order to close down final budget negotiations,” he said.

A Paterson spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The governor was in Albany Thursday morning and left later that day. He hasn’t met with the legislative leaders since.

Paterson’s budget director, Robert Megna, is expected to reveal the final emergency-appropriation later today that is expected to include a host of spending cuts and new taxes. The budget is already about 70 percent completed; this bill will likely include the rest of the state’s spending plan for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Paterson gave lawmakers until Monday to finalize a budget or he would submit the proposal which cannot be altered. Legislators must approve this budget on Monday or the state risks a government shutdown. Speculation of what would be in the bill includes a possible excise tax for sugary drinks, a contentious plan that would allow individual state university campuses to set their own tuition rates and cuts to K-12 education and the suspension of the sales tax cap for clothing and footwear.

The budget was due on April 1, but state leaders have failed to come to a solution that would close a $9.2 billion deficit.

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