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New York Gov. George E. Pataki on Wednesday signed off on a judiciary budget that includes $69.5 million for retroactive judicial pay raises, although additional legislation is needed before that money can be spent and salaries are actually increased.

Although the judges are still a step away from securing the pay hike they have been denied since 1999, they are also a step closer. Pataki’s decision to leave the judiciary budget alone, especially when he is highly critical of legislative spending and used his line-item veto power to slash 202 items costing some $2.9 billion, is a positive sign for the judges.

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