New York faces a $3 billion deficit in the current fiscal year, Gov. David Paterson said at a meeting of legislative leaders yesterday.

Paterson called for a special session to deal with the gap, which was first pegged at $2.1 billion in July, just four months after the state passed its $131.9 billion fiscal 2010 budget. The session could come as soon as next week.

Paterson said the new deficit figure was an estimate and not a hard number. Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson of Brooklyn said legislators needed real deficit figures to act on rather than estimates.

Falling tax revenue, primarily lower personal income tax collections, created the gap.

Revenue collections for the first five months of the fiscal year beginning April 1 have fallen $444.5 million below projections, and at $18.6 billion are nearly $5 billion lower than they were for the same period last year, according to a report released last week by the state comptroller's office.

On Tuesday, the state budget director called on agency heads to submit budgets for the next fiscal year that keep spending at the same level as this year.

Lieut. Gov. Richard Ravitch, confirmed this week in his post by the State Court of Appeals, called on the Division of Budget to provide weekly revenue updates. A budget spokesman said they would provide whatever information was requested.

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