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Federal funds likely to help avoid school cuts

Gov. David A. Paterson said Friday the big infusion of federal money will let him drop the cuts he had planned to make in funding for local school districts.

But considering the state of the economy, the vow carried a sizable asterisk.

The $2.4 billion in education funds for the state in the federal stimulus package recently signed by President Obama will restore "every cut we made to school districts." In seven Western New York counties, schools had faced $80 million in lower state aid payments under Paterson's proposed budget for next year, compared with this year. Erie County districts accounted for $50 million of the total.

But under some circumstances, Paterson said, things could change.

"The only way that could change is if our budget deficit becomes so much more," he said Friday at an appearance on Long Island. He then went on to note how quickly the deficit had surged in the past six months, despite nearly $3 billion in revenue increases and spending reductions enacted by the state since August.

The deficit for new fiscal year, which will begin April 1, now is projected at $14 billion. But Congress and the Obama administrations specifically targeted the federal money to restore planned cuts to education.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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