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$14 billion deficit projected for state budget

Gov. David A. Paterson on Tuesday accepted dire fiscal forecasts from legislative leaders, a move that pushes the projected 2009 state budget deficit up to $14 billion.

The dismal numbers came in a consensus by Paterson and legislative leaders that the amount of revenue that Albany will have to spend in the coming year will be about $1 billion less than the governor projected when he proposed his 2009 budget plan in December. The fiscal year starts April 1.

The only good news was that the state's leaders agreed on the more somber number five days earlier than the legal March 1 deadline for the revenue consensus number, which then determines how much the sides will have to spend in the upcoming state budget talks.

The lower revenue estimates take into consideration a continuing slide in the economy, and resulting job losses in New York, since Paterson put together his budget proposal in December.

The Assembly, normally not the most conservative in fiscal estimates, two weeks ago first warned revenues were running about $1 billion below expectations. At the time, Paterson had estimated a $13 billion hole that had to be filled in the upcoming talks. As of Tuesday, it's officially $14 billion -- meaning the sides will have to come up with new spending cuts or tax hikes to make up the difference.

The sides agreed that general fund revenues will total $54.23 billion in the coming fiscal year, up only slightly from $54 billion in the year ending March 31.

The sides also agreed that the state is in a broad-based recession.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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