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Cuomo Veto Trims $500 Million in Aid For Schools From Budget Bill in N.Y.

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Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York last week vetoed about $500 million in school aid from the budget bill passed by the legislature.

The school-aid veto was one of several that removed a total of almost $1 billion in spending proposals from the legislature's $52-billion fiscal package, which the Governor said would have created a budget deficit.

Legislative leaders, who insisted that their spending and revenue plan had been in balance, would not say last week whether they would try to override the vetoes.

Mr. Cuomo's vetoes, the largest he has issued against the nine annual budgets he has overseen, essentially removed all spending added by the legislature to his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.

The vetoes also brought the likely reduction in state aid to schools back up to $891 million, thereby thwarting the legislature's effort to restore more than half of the Governor's proposed 10 percent school-aid cut. (See Education Week, June 5, 1991.)

Darren J. Dopp, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said the Governor and state comptroller had determined that the legislature's budget "was out of balance significantly." Mr. Cuomo decided to veto all of the legislature's additional spending proposals rather than choosing from among lawmakers' priorities, the spokesman explained.

Without the vetoes, Mr. Dopp said, the budget could not have been certified as balanced and the state would have jeopardized its ability to borrow money to give assistance to schools and local governments.

New funding for education would be a likely addition to the budget if the legislature comes up with new sources of revenue, he added.

Mr. Cuomo needed to have a balanced budget in place quickly because the legislature was nine weeks late in passing its budget package. As a result, localities--especially New York City--were having to make severe cutbacks and borrow as they waited for state funds.

The vetoes resulted in the removal of $937 million in spending from a budget that the Governor said was $899 million in the red. Mr. Dopp said the $40 million in excess spending cuts could easily be inserted back into the budget at a later date, and education programs would be a top priority as the Governor negotiated with the legislature over distribution of the new funds.

Legislative leaders maintained, however, that the vetoes had been unnecessary.

Speaker of the Assembly Melvin H. Miller, a Democrat, last week issued a statement saying that Mr. Cuomo "has taken out the fairness and equity that the legislature put into his original budget proposal."

The Democratic Governor's vetoes, Mr. Miller said, "will eliminate services and precipitate excessive hikes in local property taxes, and will cause massive layoffs of teachers, municipal workers, and employees of not-for-profit agencies."

Mr. Miller said he would consult with Assembly members and other legislative leaders to decide on a response to the vetoes.

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