Officials: State budget will be late

(AP) - Legislative officials say a $124 billion state budget, due at midnight, won't be passed until later this week, creating the latest state budget in four years.The Assembly wasn't expected to vote on its first budget bills until late Monday night and all the bills won't likely be done until Wednesday, said two officials in the Democrat-controlled Assembly.

In the Republican-controlled Senate, budget bills aren't expected to be passed until Thursday or Friday, according to a Senate official.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because their leaders hadn't conceded that the 2008-09 budget will be late.Some of the possible items in the 2008-09 spending plan include a doubling of the cigarette tax to $3 a pack, no pay raise for legislators or judges, and a requirement that Internet retailerssuch as Amazon.com collect state sales taxes on purchases made inNew York.

Despite promises to make budget talks more open and transparent,legislative leaders and new Gov. David Paterson kept details of the 2008-09 budget secret Monday. In Albany, such secrecy has beencommon when leaders feared lobbyists could unravel the vote in theSenate and Assembly.Lobbyists, meanwhile, continued their last-ditch pitches. On Monday, in a driving freezing rain, hundreds of prison guards rallied loudly at the Capitol steps to stop a measure that would close a medium security prison and three minimum security prisons, threatening their jobs. The proposal by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer would save taxpayers $33.5 million a year and avoid $30 million in capital costs while the prison population drops.

Spitzer resigned this month when he was implicated in a prostitution scandal. Paterson and lawmakers had reportedly hoped that an agreement on a budget in dire economic times with a nearly $5 billion deficit would help put a month of unprecedented scandal behind them.

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