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State budget being approved, piece by piece, as a large protest group gathers
By Karen Dewitt/WRVO's Capitol Correspondent
ALBANY, NY – Hundreds of New Yorkers are expected at the state Capitol Wednesday to protest the approval of a state budget that cuts schools by $1.2 billion dollars, makes reductions to public colleges and universities and tuition assistance programs, and rejects a tax on millionaires.
The groups say they plan to hold an all night camp out at the Capitol, and have scheduled demonstrations outside Governor Cuomo's office, as well as the Senate and Assembly chambers. Speaker Sheldon Silver says he's not concerned about the potential disruptions.
"We'll have people who are interested in our proceedings, we're open to the public, that's always been our tradition."
Silver says if anyone behaves inappropriately, then the state police will "manage" it.
Earlier this month, disabled rights advocates stationed themselves in the chamber, chanting loudly. Assembly members applauded the protesters, then, continued their business as usual.
Lawmakers expect to be passing budget bills while the demonstrations take place.
The Assembly and Senate printed some of the less controversial budget bills Tuesday, including transportation, economic development and the environment, but had yet to finalize all of the health and education legislation. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says it will be another day before lawmakers find out exactly how $270 million dollars in school aid restorations will be distributed, and he says there are still some "loose ends" in the Medicaid budget.
Legislative leaders say they are still on track for an on time, or even an early, state budget.