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CUOMO MUM ON BATTLING NEW DEFICIT

Although this year's state budget is on the brink of another deficit, Gov. Cuomo won't speculate on what he might do to balance it.

"Why make that judgment now? What will December show? What will the figures be after December? Why guess now?" Cuomo asked reporters Tuesday.

His comments came a day after Comptroller Edward V. Regan said the state could be facing a new deficit of $100 million to $400 million by the end of this fiscal year March 31, beyond the nearly nearly $900 million deficit the State Legislature just closed.

When asked about tax collections for the rest of the fiscal year, the governor responded, "It's going to be very, very bad."

Although he would not say how he will handle a deficit that has not yet occurred, Cuomo did say his budget staff already is preparing contingency plans for a deficit.

And he did not rule out the possibility of borrowing money to close a deficit, though he indicated that budget cuts would be the first option.

Regan said there is the strong possibility that tax revenues will continue to decline for a total shortfall of $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion for this year. If the budget- cutting plan approved by Cuomo and the Legislature is successful, more than $1 billion will be shaved from those figures, leaving a potential gap of $100 million to $400 million.

Legislative and other budget experts speculate that the governor probably could manage a $100 million to $200 million gap by cutting various administrative expenses and delaying some payments until the following fiscal year. A larger gap could mean borrowing money or asking the Legislature for more spending cuts.

"Are you asking me if on March 30 you have a $300 million hole, could you close it in one day without borrowing?" Cuomo said during an interview on a cable television program. "The answer is we wish to do no borrowing and no taxes."

Although the governor has not ruled out the possibility of raising taxes next year when, Regan says, the state could be facing a $3 billion to $4 billion deficit, it would be difficult to raise taxes fast enough to solve a potential deficit this year, according to legislative aides.

After the interview, the governor said officials still are considering extending the state's fiscal year by three months from March 30 to June 30. That would give state officials more time to consider contingency plans to balance the budget.

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