ALBANY (Reuters) - New York's fiscal logjam appeared to worsen on Tuesday after a top Democratic Senator rejected returning to session until a deficit-cutting pact was reached.
And the one bright spot in state coffers --- Wall Street's recovery -- threatened to cause more delays should legislators feel less urgency to deal with the deficit as financial sector revenues increase.
Democratic Senate President Malcolm Smith told Albany reporters the different sides in the deficit-cutting talks were close to a deal, but added:
"The Senate intends to come back into session once we have reached an agreement on the Deficit Reduction Plan, after which time the Senate will vote on any other legislation that the Governor has included in his proclamation."
Democratic Governor David Paterson has repeatedly warned lawmakers they cannot wait to cut the state's approximately $122 billion budget in hopes tax revenues will recover because a cash crunch looms in December.
The financial sector is the state's main economic engine and the state comptroller said profits were reviving surprisingly quickly and fewer jobs might be lost than had been anticipated.
On Tuesday Paterson rejected a question by an Albany reporter about a possible Assembly plan to cut the deficit in stages.
"As I see it, one deficit, one plan," Paterson said. The governor, who says at least $5 billion must be sliced from spending over two years, also offered to make unilateral cuts if the legislature gives him permission to do so.
Paterson again stressed the seriousness of the state's financial peril, saying he believed the $6.8 billion deficit expected by spring could "grow to $8 or $9 billion," because the budget gaps just keep rising.
Paterson also wants lawmakers to approve gay marriage in the current special session but Democrats only control the senate by a slim majority and some senators oppose this measure.
A spokesman for Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had not immediate comment. The Assembly was expected to hold an afternoon session on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Flood Morrow in Albany)
(Writing by Joan Gralla; Editing by Andrew Hay)