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It seems to us . . . Getting your money back, upstate rivals and a heck of a way to run a railroad

REBATE REGRESSIONS: Not that we're cynical, but the difference between the state's 2006 and 2007 property tax rebates is significant and weighted toward Albany. Last year, property owners received an automatic rebate in the mail, courtesy of a state government -- especially the Senate -- that wanted to do everything it could to be nice to New Yorkers. This year's rebate program has this twist: You have to ask for the money. It won't come unless you apply for it.

So why the difference: Last year was an election year.

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AND IN THIS CORNER: Tempers ran a little hot in Albany as the budget went down to the wire, we hear. Words were exchanged, and rumor has it that one state senator got shoved out of the way, as one Rochester lawmaker got a bit carried away with his "give us as much as Buffalo" push for state aid and had it out verbally with a Buffalo colleague.

Jostling at the trough is one thing, but this was the Senate, where things are supposed to be a bit more, well, sedate than in the Assembly. Worse, the last thing this region needs is an upstate-upstate divide to match the upstate-downstate one already in place. As peacemaking Irondequoit Assemblyman Joe Morelle said, acting senatorial, a split between his region and Buffalo would be "counterproductive."

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RAILS TO RUIN: A recent Amtrak trip to Albany for the budget session uncovered this startling fact: While riding the rails is indeed inexpensive, it can be a lot quicker to drive.

The Lake Shore Limited that day pulled into Albany more than two hours late, turning the trip into a seven-hour marathon. You can drive nearly to Boston in that amount of time. But crew members on both that and the also-tardy return trip seemed relieved, anyway. The run, they said, is not infrequently eight or nine hours behind schedule. Oh, well, at least we now know what "Limited" means. Whatever happened to setting your watch by the railroads?

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