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Lawmakers Brace for Budget Protests at Capitol

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

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 said they have scheduled demonstrations outside Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, as well as the Senate and Assembly chambers. Speaker Sheldon Silver said Tuesday he's not concerned about the potential disruptions.

"We'll have people who are interested in our proceedings," he said. "We're open to the public — that's always been our tradition."

Silver said 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.

Silver said it will be another day before lawmakers find out exactly how $270 million dollars in school aid restorations will be distributed, and he that there are still some "loose ends" in the Medicaid budget.    

Legislative leaders said they are still on track for an on time, or even an early, state budget.

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