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Republicans stop feared New York State government shutdown

From Julian Cummings, CNN
  • 3 Republicans vote with 31 Democrats to pass extension
  • 1 Democrat nearly derails weekly extension
  • Democrats, Republicans at standstill over budget
  • Bill expected to pass lower house

(CNN) -- Three Republican New York state senators crossed party lines Monday and voted "yes" for a week long budget extension, stopping the threat of a government shut down in the state.

The Republican votes offset the "no" vote of Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., of the Bronx.

"I don't want innocent people in New York state to be penalized by the incompetence of political leaders," said Republican Sen Roy McDonald of Saratoga, one of the three who voted in favor of the legislation.

The vote passed by a 34 to 27 margin. The short-term spending plan is a stop gap measure now passed 11 straight weeks while the divided state legislature struggles to come to an agreement on a complete budget.

Without the Republican votes, the plan would have been one vote shy of the 32 needed for passage.

Despite the bipartisan vote, tensions remain high between the New York Democrats and Republicans.

"The most dysfunctional budget process I've seen in my 34 years," said Rep. Hugh Farley of Schenectady County.

Diaz voted "yes" the past ten weeks of budget extensions but opposed this week's vote.

"Last week I voted yes and it pained me down to my soul to vote for a billion dollars in cuts. Last week I said it's the last time I'm going to vote to hurt the poor and the needy," he said.

The bill still needs to pass the lower house of the New York state legislature -- the Assembly -- where passage is expected.

This year, the state government is 2 1/2 months late in approving a 2010 budget and has been getting by on the weekly extensions. Until this week, the extensions have easily passed the Assembly, where Democrats have more than a 2/3rd majority.

Democrats and Republicans are at an impasse over Gov. David Paterson's budget. Republicans insist they will block its passage until some of their proposals, most of them cuts in social programs.

CNN's Bradley Gallo contributed to this report