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N.Y. Assembly Democrats Gird for Cuomo to Call Special Session

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is calling his chamber’s fellow Democrats to a Dec. 6 meeting in anticipation of a special legislative session on the deficit that may start the following day, according to spokesman Michael Whyland.

The special session isn’t guaranteed, since it’s up to Governor Andrew Cuomo to decide to convene it, Whyland said yesterday in a telephone interview. A mid-year financial update showed the state facing a $350 million budget gap in the current fiscal year.

“The Democratic Conference will meet and go over issues and discuss any specific proposals that may be sent to us by the governor,” Whyland said.

Cuomo, a 53-year-old Democrat, said this week he’d only call lawmakers back to Albany if they had agreed on an agenda. Josh Vlasto, a Cuomo spokesman, didn’t respond to an e-mail and telephone call requesting comment. Senate Republicans aren’t scheduling anything for next week, said Mark Hansen, a spokesman for Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

The first-term governor is considering an overhaul of the tax code to stimulate the economy, Cuomo said Nov. 30 on WGDJ in Albany. The plan, which may include tax increases on the wealthy and cuts for middle-income earners, is part of negotiations between lawmakers and the Cuomo administration, three legislative aides with knowledge of the discussions said yesterday.

Specific Proposal

A specific proposal hadn’t been sent by the governor, said the aides, who asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t cleared to speak publicly about the negotiations.

The two sides have also discussed including a bill on the agenda that would create a taxi medallion system for livery cabs in New York City, the aides said.

Senate Democrats, who are in the minority, cheered the idea of a special session.

“The time for action is now,” Senate Minority Leader John Sampson said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “The state’s deficit has gotten worse.”

A tax increase on top earners may find support in the Democrat-led Assembly, where Silver introduced a bill in May that would raise levies on those who earn $1 million or more. That may run into trouble with Senate Republicans.

Cutting, Not Raising

“We support cutting taxes, not raising taxes,” said Scott Reif, a Skelos spokesman.

The Republicans have a one-vote majority in the Senate. There are signs Cuomo might engineer a split as he did when four Republicans joined Democrats in approving same-sex marriage in June.

In October, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Thomas Libous, a Binghamton Republican, suggested he could be swayed to extend an income-tax surcharge if his flood-ravaged city needs extra cash.

Senator John Bonacic, a Republican representing much of the Catskill region, introduced a bill in March that would raise taxes on those who earn $1 million or more and dedicate the revenue to education and local governments. Bonacic still supports that move, said Jillian Deuel, a spokeswoman.

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