With Budget Deadline Looming, Pols Snub Paterson

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    New York Gov. David Paterson listens to a speaker during a legislative leaders budget meeting at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday, June 16, 2010. Paterson has given lawmakers a June 28 deadline to complete the state budget, which was due on April 1. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    Gov. David Paterson sought to deliver his last budget bill to the Legislature, but the Assembly and Senate refused to accept them amid escalating tensions over a state budget nearly three months overdue.

    Instead, the Senate and Assembly plan to consider their own budget bills Monday. Their spokesmen say the governor missed a deadline to submit the bills and that allows the Legislature to reject them.

     

    Paterson had ordered lawmakers into an extraordinary session Sunday shortly after the Assembly and Senate announced their surprise agreement on a $136 billion budget. Paterson had ordered them to consider the elements of his budget they rejected.

    In a snub on Sunday, the Assembly and Senate each met for four minutes, never taking up Paterson’s proposals. They also said he lacked the authority to order them into extraordinary session again. They used a parliamentary strategy of never technically gaveling out of an extraordinary session several months ago. Lawmakers argue a governor can’t compel them to Albany — as Paterson has done more any other governor — because the chambers were, technically, always in extraordinary session.

    It’s the latest indication of the tension in Albany over the budget.

    After negotiations failed, Paterson has been forcing lawmakers to accept pieces of the 2010-11 budget in weekly emergency spending bills. Lawmakers must accept those bills and all the governor puts in them or shut down government.

    On Saturday, a day after Paterson put in deeper cuts to school aid and some of his policy goals into what was to be the last emergency spending bill, the Assembly and Senate fought back.

    Senate leader John Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat, sought to downplay the confrontation.

    “I had to do what we had to do as the leader of the Senate to make sure that we negotiated not from a position of weakness, but from a position of strength on the same level playing field and that’s what we’re doing ... we took up his challenge. We’re going to get it done.”

    Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Paterson gave the two chambers the motivation needed to oppose and block Paterson’s emergency spending bill.

    “There is no shutdown,” Silver said. “Our bill will cover that.”

    Silver said the Legislature’s budget is necessary to restore $600 million to school aid, compared to the $400 million the governor was ready to do in his Monday bill. The restoration is against Paterson’s January budget proposal in which he called for a $1.4 billion cut to school aid, or about 5 percent, to help contend with a $9.2 billion deficit.

    Paterson tried to claim victory in the Legislature’s attempt to outflank him.

    “I’m absolutely happy about that,” Paterson said Sunday. “I’ve been asking for that, as you know, for three months, and perhaps the pressure of the emergency appropriations got them to finally do what they should have done three months ago.”

    The Legislature rejects Paterson’s plan to sell wine in grocery stores to raise revenue and boost the wine industry. The Legislature also rejects Paterson’s plan to “empower” the public universities with more autonomy and the authority to raise tuition by up to 8 percent annually over the next four years. The Assembly and Senate also reject Paterson’s proposal to cap the growth on local property taxes, including school taxes, to about 4 percent a year to stem some of the nation’s highest property taxes.

    If the Legislature passes a budget without his support, he could veto the lawmakers’ amendments. An override, however, may be difficult. Senate Republicans could deny the two-third votes in the chamber with a 32-30 Democratic majority.

    Paterson and the Legislature agree on some revenue producing measures. They include:

    —Eliminating the sales tax exemption on clothing and shoes costing under $110. The exemption would end in October, the return April 1, but exempt clothing and shoes worth $55. The $110 exemption would return April 1, 2012. That is supposed to bring in $330 million.

    —Cutting in half the charitable deductions for about 3,500 New Yorkers who make at least $10 million a year.

    —Expanding the hours of the Quick Draw gambling game run by the Lottery Division often in bars, which critics have called video crack.
     

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