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Protesting through the night in Albany...

Mar 31, 2011 5:59 am

Stephanie Lee of the Times Union reports on the overnight protests at the state capitol in Albany, where most of the work of passing a new state budget was completed in the midnight hours. Over 1,000 activists from across the state declared they would remain in the Capitol until Thursday morning, March 31, to protest cuts in the $132.5 billion state budget. Legislators, meanwhile, raced to complete their work on the spending plan before the April 1 deadline. Throughout much of the afternoon, the only activity in the building were shouted protests in the majestic "million dollar staircase." There was a scuffle with police around 6:00 p.m. when police refused to allow delivery of 70 large pizzas. But the food was eventually allowed in with the help of Democratic assemblymen. Finally, after 9:00 p.m., the state Senate and Assembly gaveled themselves into order and began passing the four final budget bills -- including those covering education and health care. Almost $240 million in extra school aid was restored to the executive budget, but only $57 million of that will come Upstate. Most local districts will be taking hits of five to ten percent. Many of the protesters left on buses in the early morning, but about 300 to 400 overnighted in the building's many hallways.