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Senate GOP pushing tax, spending controls

ALBANY -– Two State Senate committees have approved legislation to control state spending and taxation -– measures that face a questionable life in the Assembly.

One measure, sponsored by Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, an Erie County Republican, would cap the annual growth of state spending at 2 percent, or 120 percent of the inflation rate, whichever is lower.

The other, sponsored by freshman Sen. Lee Zeldin, a Long Island Republican, would require a two-thirds majority vote of both legislative houses for any bill that raises or extends specific taxes or fees.

The proposals, set to pass the Senate Wednesday, would be amendments to the state constitution -– meaning they would have to be passed by a successive state legislative body before going to voters in a statewide referendum. The earliest such a referendum could take place is November 2013.

Most Democrats in the Senate committees opposed the measure. “It’s premature,’’ Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, a Westchester County Democrat, said of the spending cap proposal; she said the issue needs more study.

-- Tom Precious

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