Why Wait For The State? City Racing To Budget Deal

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Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council are aiming to strike a handshake agreement on a city budget by Friday, three days before the state’s self-imposed deadline to complete its long overdue spending plan, according to people with knowledge of the budget process.

The rapidly approaching deadline had advocates crowding the steps of City Hall and lobbying councilmembers on Wednesday. At around noon, as the Council’s budget negotiating committee was set to meet, advocates for after-school programs sat on the sidelines as supporters of immigrant assistance programs packed the steps. A lobbyist for day care workers chatted with reporters.

Said Greg Faulkner, chief of staff to freshman Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera, in a phone interview: “You can’t walk through the hallway without people pouncing, which is what they should do.”

Click here for a list of Council members.

Gov. Paterson has set a deadline of Monday, June 28 to complete the state budget that was supposed to be done by April 1. The lack of a firm state budget means the city must guess at how much state aid will come its way. The city budget proposal released by the mayor in May was based on the severe cuts included in the governor’s January spending plan: $493 million in school funding reductions and $1.3 billion in other cuts to the city.

The city must finalize a budget before the start of its fiscal year on July 1. Unlike the state, it cannot go past deadline, according to Independent Budget Office deputy director Doug Turetsky.

“It’ll all be over in a couple days,” said Neil Tepel, a lobbyist for AFSCME District Council 1707, which represents daycare workers.

The mayor’s