NY state might spare parks from budget ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cash-strapped New York state should keep 41 state parks and 14 historic sites open and avoid reducing services at others by tapping the environmental fund, Governor David Paterson proposed on Monday.

The Democratic governor called on the legislature to approve this stop-gap measure; in January, he had proposed closing the parks and historic sites to help close a deficit.

“I have heard from my colleague in the Legislature that funding State parks and historic sites is a top priority, but I have not heard any specific solutions as to how to pay for it,” Paterson said in a statement.

Faced with a $9.2 billion deficit, Paterson last week closed or reduced services at more than 60 parks to save about $6 million.

Though the state’s budget was due on April 1, Paterson and the legislature are still feuding over some of the cuts and tax hikes in his $135 billion budget plan.

Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Kenneth Barry