With New York’s finances at their worst since the Great Depression, a new plan put together by a local think-tank outlines a way for the state to save as much as $30 billion in the next three years. Among other points, the plan recommends that the state Legislature formally declare a financial emergency and freeze all public-sector wages and salaries for a three-year period.

In the next fiscal year beginning April 1, New York is expected to face a $6.8 billion budget gap, followed by a $14.8 billion gap the year after that, according to Governor David Paterson’s Division of the Budget.

“Like a runaway train, New York’s budget is in danger of derailing,” said E.J. McMahon, director of the think-tank Empire Center for Public Policy, in a press release.

The plan comes two weeks before Governor David Paterson is expected to release his budget for the next fiscal year.

“If anyone wants to steal our ideas, we’d be happy,” said Lise Bang-Jensen, a policy analyst with the Empire Center.

In December, the governor asked the state Legislature to close a 3.2 billion gap in the current fiscal year, but they only approved a $2.8 billion plan.

“Some legislators have their heads in the sand about the severity of the state’s finances,” said Bang-Jensen.

Influential legislature leaders, including Sens. Carl Kruger and Pedro Espada, Jr., did not return a request for comment as of press time…

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