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$15 MILLION IN AID TO CITY CALLED LIKELY STATE HANDOUT WOULD TRIM DEFICIT

Buffalo is virtually certain to win its request for $15 million in additional state aid to help the city close its projected $34 million deficit for the coming fiscal year, state legislative leaders said Friday.

While talks on the rest of the state budget are in shambles, all sides now agree that Buffalo will likely get the entire $15 million, which when combined with $19 million in cuts in city spending would close the anticipated deficit.

The break came when Senate leaders agreed with Assembly leaders to join Gov. Cuomo in supporting the city's request.

Like some state legislators, Mayor Masiello was cautious in reacting to Friday's development.

"Like Yogi Berra said, 'It ain't over, til it's over,' " he said.

Cuomo also cautioned city officials against being overly optimistic, based on the state budget talks hitting an all-time low Friday in a continuing dispute over tax cuts and school aid.

"If both (houses) are telling you that $15 million is a go, that's really good news," he said. "But I must tell you, after what I witnessed today, I'm not sure they're going to be able to sustain any agreements."

However, the lack of progress on the state budget did not shake the support in both houses for fulfilling Buffalo's aid request.

"It looks good assuming everything else works out," said Sen. Dale Volker, R-Depew. "As far as the city's money, nobody can say for sure until the whole (budget) is put together . . . but it certainly looks very good."

Masiello will likely include the $15 million in his budget proposal, which he must submit to the Common Council by May 1.

"Obviously it's great news, but it'll be greater once I know it's official," he said.

Masiello, a former state senator, noted the efforts to persuade his one-time colleagues to give the aid.

"We've been working very hard at it, using all my contacts and relationships that I established the last 13 years," he said.

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