The New York State Senate released a $136 billion spending plan Monday that includes prison closures and a $7 million cut to the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
Lawmakers say the plan softens some of the cuts proposed in Gov. David Paterson's 2010-11 Executive Budget. The senate plan does not affect state parks or historic sites.
Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader John Sampson and Finance Committee Chairman Carl Kruger, the preliminary 2010-11 Legislative Budget features $3 billion more in appropriations than Paterson's $133 billion plan.
The preliminary senate budget would close three upstate prisons - the Moriah Shock Correctional Facility, Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility and Butler Correctional Facility - within the next 12 months.
Kruger said cuts need to be made somewhere.
"This budget is about priorities," Kruger said. "It is about doing everything in our power to enact a fair and responsible budget."
The senate budget spares the medium security Ogdensburg facility - the largest of the four slated for closure in the proposed executive budget. The facility falls within Democratic Senator Darrel Aubertine's district.
Republican John DeFrancisco said the $1.5 billion in one-shots and spin-ups in the Democratic proposal are only partisan gimmicks. He blasted Democrats for keeping Republicans largely in the dark while making cuts in GOP districts.
"This product by the way was presented to us in draft form for the first time yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock and in final form, today at 2 o'clock," DeFrancisco said. "That's only an hour before this particular session started."
If adopted, the proposal would also slash over $7 million in ORDA funding. This particular budget amendment blindsided Sen. Betty Little.
"The proposed complete elimination of state funding for ORDA is the biggest surprise today," Little said. "ORDA and Lake Placid attract hundreds of thousands of tourists, so I am perplexed by the logic of this proposed cut which no doubt would cost the state and the region a lot of revenue."
Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson said the cuts aren't based on party affiliation or region.
"But know that this in the best interest of the state and cut we must," she said. "We've tried to do in it in a manner that is both safe and judicious."
ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin said it is too early in the process to assess the potential impacts of the cuts.
"It's only a proposal," Lundin said. "We will watch it closely."
The Senate Majority proposes restoring $79 million to the state Environmental Protection Fund, the lion's share of which would be spent on state land acquisitions, and an additional $290 million in senior citizen STAR exemptions.
It also restores $6 million to the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the continued operation of numerous parks and historic sites slated for closure.
The senate budget rejects most of the governor's proposed fee and tax hikes, including $465 million in estimated revenues from a tax on sugary drinks and $210 million in additional cigarette taxes.
But it preserves $1.4 billion in school aid and $1 billion in health care cuts in Paterson's original budget.
On Monday, Senators voted 32 to 29 along party lines to move the preliminary 2010-2011 Legislative Budget into conference committee negotiations.
By state law, the final budget is to be adopted by April 1.