Gov. Paterson accused state legislators Thursday of being too afraid to make necessary budget cuts to deal with the fiscal crisis that jeopardizes the state’s ability to pay its bills next month.
For several weeks, lawmakers have rejected Paterson’s proposal to cut $1.3 billion in education and health to close a projected $3.2 billion budget gap for the current year, especially those in the Senate.
Paterson spoke on the John Gambling Show on WOR-AM. He said the attack ads have been unethically inaccurate and personal, but doesn’t believe that it applies to the Legislature.
"With legislators, I don't think it's personal," Paterson said, according to the Daily News. "I think they're just too afraid or just too chagrined to address the problems that need addressing."
Paterson said the problem is from both parties.
He noted that some lawmakers would only agree to the budget cuts if Paterson enacts a state spending cap Paterson proposed.
Paterson says that this was designed so that they could avoid cuts because Assembly Democrats will not approve the spending cap.
"What they call that in legislative terms is a poison pill," Paterson said. "They'll tell you they're going to do it, but they're really not going to do it."
The debate over the spending caps will happen during next year’s budget process because it will have no impact on this year’s budget.
The governor criticized Senate Finance Committee Chairman Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) for his statement about how collecting taxes on sales of cigarettes by Native Americans could boost the state’s budget by $135 million.
He said his estimates were simply too high.
"If you wonder how you get a negotiation going on with that kind of element injecting itself into the process, obviously trying to placate other interests," Paterson said.
He criticized the legislators for turning down $686 million in mid-year school assistance cuts.
"We're in a crisis here, how can the number be zero?" he asked, the paper reported.
"Some of the legislators I must say do understand this crisis, they're telling it to me, and they want to get out of here and balance the budget. Others think of excuses.”
Paterson admitted, "we're scraping the bottom of the barrel" regarding the failed proposal that required drivers to get new license plates.
"You get to a point where you're at depleted resources," he said. "When you run out of money, you start eating breakfast cereal for dinner because you don't have any money to buy the dinner foods and then maybe someone starts complaining about what kind of food we're eating. And that's because we didn't save and that's because we spent money that we didn't have."