Ny Gov.Paterson Offers Choice: Furloughs or Shutdown

Thursday, May 6, 2010
By Paul Martin


ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson escalated his battle with the Legislature over the state’s financial crisis on Tuesday, saying that lawmakers could give him the authority to furlough more than 100,000 state employees or face the prospect of shutting down New York’s government.

Though Mr. Paterson is calling for workers to be furloughed for a single day, he warned that he would continue pressing for furloughs until the Legislature agrees to a deal on the state budget, which is more than a month late with no resolution in sight.

Mr. Paterson asked the Senate and the Assembly to approve furloughs in a bill he submitted last week. But because the Legislature has refused to put the measure to a vote, he said, he would include furloughs in the next emergency spending bill. Since the budget deadline expired on March 31, there have been five such bills passed to keep the government running.

The governor’s announced intention has raised the stakes considerably. Because the state’s Constitution severely limits the ability of the Legislature to amend budget bills, lawmakers will face a choice between approving furloughs and rejecting the emergency bill.

“We’re taking an extreme effort now to make sure that we reach a resolution,” Mr. Paterson said at a news conference, “because we are more and more sinking into a deficit situation that we may not be able to ameliorate, and I’m not just going to sit around and let this situation overwhelm the taxpayers of New York.”

The sixth emergency bill issued by Mr. Paterson would require one day of furlough for state employees during the work week beginning May 17, saving the state about $30 million. The Legislature is expected to vote on the bill on Monday. If the bill is rejected, state agencies would not be able to spend money after May 9.

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