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6-WEEK BUDGET EXTENDER IN WORKS

Frustrated by a lack of progress on budget talks, the administration of Gov. George E. Pataki plans to submit emergency legislation to keep the government running until mid-September.

The six-week "extender" would provide $14.8 billion for health care, state worker salaries and other expenses. The state, which still lacks a budget for the fiscal year that began April 1, has been operating on "emergency appropriations." The current one will expire Aug. 1.

Although his administration would not confirm the reports, Pataki privately threatened the long extension to jump-start stalled talks over the state budget. Last week, officials said the six-week extender would be submitted this week. Both the State Senate and Assembly are due back in Albany on Tuesday.

Assembly Democrats have accused Pataki of not being serious about budget talks and cite such lengthy budget extenders as proof, contending they take the heat off negotiators to craft a deal. Typically, budget extenders last for one to two weeks. Pataki has said he would not keep legislators milling about Albany every two weeks without a comprehensive budget deal.

Though the governor is likely to live up to his threat, he also left time -- by announcing the move last week -- to cut a deal before the current legislation expires Aug. 1.

In addition to the the budget, negotiations involve a number of nonfiscal matters, including an increase in the minimum wage to at least $7.10 per hour, simplifying procedures for approving locations for new power plants, regulating assisted living residences, relaxing Rockefeller-era drug laws, reforming lobbying activities and improving the state's voting system.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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