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State Sen. Anthony M. Masiello, D-Buffalo, got what he asked for Thursday: support from the Senate's Republican leadership for more state funding to support salaries of day care workers.

But the $2 million proposal by Sen. Mary Goodhue, chairwoman of the Senate Child Care Committee, will probably be futile unless Senate Republicans can find a way to pay for the proposal, according to Ways and Means Secretary Carl Carlucci.

Day care advocates say the late proposal is reflective of the recent turmoil and poor decisions made by the Legislature in dealing with day care centers.

"They tried to address the problem but they did it the wrong way," said Louise Stoney of the New York State Child Care Coordinating Council.

In negotiating the 1990-91 state budget, the Legislature and Gov. Cuomo attempted to move the state away from fluctuating grants to subsidies based on the number of children below the poverty line.

The problem, Ms. Stoney said, is that the Legislature did not provide enough money to subsidize all the centers and all the children eligible for subsidies. Under the old grants program, more than 46,000 children received subsidies, while only 10,500 are served by the $36 million now available under the new system, Ms. Stoney said.

Day care salaries, meanwhile, did not receive any special subsidy as they did the previous two years, Masiello noted. A teacher in an upstate day care center earns an average of $6.08 an hour, Ms. Stoney said.

"Can we really justify paying those educated professionals entrusted with our children less than a stockboy in a supermarket?" Masiello wrote.

Senate aides said they hoped to find adequate funds by the time the Legislature adopts a budget "cleanup" bill.

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