Gov. Paterson Sets June 28 Deadline for Budget...Or Else

Albany, NY – Governor David Paterson has set a date for the late state budget-
June 28th. He says if lawmakers don't agree by then, he'll force them
to adopt the remainder of his spending plan, with school aid cuts and
new taxes, in an emergency spending bill.


Paterson made the surprise announcement at a public leaders meeting,
saying, more than two months after the state budget was due, it's
time to set a deadline.


"This budget will be passed by June 28th," Paterson declared, saying
if the deadline is missed "I will put the rest of the savings and the
budget plan in the emergency appropriation."


Leaving legislators with the choice to adopt the governor's budget,
with his controversial school aid cuts, and new taxes on cigarettes
and sugared soft drinks, or shut down the government. The governor
says his offer is not a threat, but a "promise".


Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson tried to up the stakes, saying
why not do a budget as soon as this week.


"Why not today, why not tomorrow?" Sampson asked. "Why not the by the
21st?"


Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was also optimistic that a budget
agreement could come before June 28th.


"The momentum is there to complete the work," said Silver.


But major sticking points remain. The governor says he's taken any
plans to borrow money to close the deficit "off the table".


"I don't want any borrowing," said Paterson. "I will not sign a
budget that has any deficit financing in it."


As recently as Monday, the governor said all ideas, borrowing, taxes,
or other plans would be open for discussion.


Both the Senate and Assembly are seeking to finance part of the new
budget through debt bonds. Assembly Democrats would like to adopt a
plan by Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch to borrow $2 billion
dollars a year, with some spending restrictions.


Senate Democrats are pushing to refinance the state's massive tobacco
settlement, as a means of generating cash to close the over $9
billion dollar gap. Senator Sampson, after the meeting, said he hopes
he can convince the governor to change his mind.


"The governor says certain things are off the table, I have to push
to make sure certain things are on the table," said Sampson.


Speaker Silver says he believes the deficit can be closed without
resorting to borrowing.


"Cuts is what we are focused on right now," said Silver.


The governor earlier in the week said he would release the
transportation, public safety and economic development portions of
his budget, and ask the legislature to approve that portion of the
spending plan by Friday. There was little discussion of those bills
at the meeting, but Paterson's aides say the measures will contain
90% of what has already been released in the governor's budget plan,
back in January. Those proposals include the closing of four prisons,
a moratorium on the training of any new state police recruits,
reductions in funding for tourism programs, and the closing of some
highway rest stops.