Paterson Hopeful Emergency Bill Will Pass; Shutdown Avoided

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    New York Gov. David Paterson talks to reporters at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    Before the start of Sunday’s Puerto Rican day parade, Governor David Paterson said he believes the New York state legislature will pass his emergency bill on Monday.

    Paterson says he doesn’t believe lawmakers would cause "unimaginable pain" to the state by allowing a government shutdown.

    Paterson on Friday called for $327 million in spending cuts to mental health and human services programs in his latest emergency spending bill, setting up the showdown with lawmakers Monday.

    The bill takes another small slice out of a $9.2 billion deficit in the budget that was due April 1.

    Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. said in an interview Friday he won't vote for another emergency bill that cuts funding to the poor and needy in his Bronx district. If he holds to that, the Senate's razor-thin Democratic majority would need at least one rare Republican crossover vote to pass the emergency spending bill and avoid an unprecedented shutdown.

    The rest of the weekend was being spent frantically trying to come up with a full state budget expected to include billions in borrowing to avoid another showdown.

    Earlier, Gov. David Paterson says Diaz and the Republicans were taking "dangerous stands."

    Some Republicans representing districts with large populations of state workers were pressured hard by their Democratic challengers to keep state payrolls and operations running, or face the political consequences this election year.

    Republican Sen. Hugh Farley of Schenectady County was criticized by Democratic candidate Susan Savage, who said the veteran senator had to "cut the politics and do the job that he was elected to do."

    Senate GOP spokesman John McArdle said Savage was "taking her orders from New York City Democrats."

    Paterson's budget director, Robert Megna, said much of what the Republicans proposed is in the spending bill, although just $15 million to $20 million in cuts were solely sought by the Senate GOP.

    For example, the Republicans sought to delay a 10-percent increase in the state's welfare grant to save $28 million, but that proposal was rejected, Megna said.

    The Democratic governor and the Democrats who control the Senate and Assembly now need the Senate Republicans, with whom Democrats have been feuding all year. Democrats have a 32-30 majority in the chamber, where 32 votes are needed to pass legislation.

    Last Monday, the Legislature passed $775 million in cuts for the 2010-11 fiscal year, most of which were proposed by Paterson. New York City area hospitals were expected to be hit with $250 million of the reductions.

    While vexing for hospitals, nursing homes and clinics, many of which operate on a thin line of solvency, the package approved by the Legislature was less than the $1 billion in cuts Paterson had proposed in his executive budget. It includes $6 million in cuts for stem-cell research, a top priority for Paterson, who is legally blind.

    Health care is about 40 percent of state spending.