New York Gov. David Paterson yesterday released a deficit reduction proposal that, if approved by the Legislature, would wipe out the current $1.5 billion budget deficit and also reduce next year's funding gap by $3.2 billion, with education and health care programs absorbing the brunt of the cuts.

The state is facing a $12.5 billion deficit for fiscal 2010, which begins April 1, and officials expect that shortfall to balloon to $47 billion in total over the next four years. The Legislature will begin a special session on Nov. 18 to work on Paterson's proposed spending cuts, yet those plans could have a hard time passing through a lame-duck Senate. Republicans will relinquish their control of the upper chamber once new members are sworn in this January.

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