Unable to get the Legislature to agree on how to address a $3.2 billion deficit, New York Gov. David Paterson on Sunday said he's taking $1.6 billion worth of temporary, emergency measures to cover the state's December bills.
While he continues to negotiate, he may have lost some leverage. Several lawmakers have sought the executive branch actions to provide more time to wait for revenues to rebound after Jan. 1 and to avoid Paterson's cuts to powerful special interests in public schools and hospitals.
"I feel that we have to start making the deficit reductions on our own, hoping the Legislature will join us," Paterson said in a teleconference with reporters. "This is the point where other states went off the cliff. This is where they should have acted and didn't."
He referred to even larger deficits in California and other states where officials were forced to borrow long term, miss payments that hurt their credit rating, issue IOUs, layoff workers, release prisoners early and close most libraries.
"Pushing any more problems down the road is unacceptable to me," he said, criticizing the Legislature for lack of action on the deficit since September. "My question is, when are they going to do their job?"
Among Sunday's actions is Paterson's proposed 4.5 percent cut in remaining school aid that the Senate promised to block.
Most of Paterson's immediate action involves shifting money from state agencies to the general fund, which must be returned to the agencies within four months under law. He also says he will temporarily use some cash from previously scheduled borrowing for capital projects. The plan includes his already announced cuts of $500 million through 11 percent cuts to state agencies, $150 million in improved Medicaid fraud collections and management efficiencies.
The move comes a week after State Senate leaders said there is no way they will abdicate their responsibility to approve cuts to the state's beleagured budget -- even as Gov. David Paterson tries to move on the matter all by himself.
Paterson has said he planned to introduce legislation that will give him the one-time authority to make spending cuts without the approval of the legislature.
He said the "Executive Option Proposal" would "grant me as governor the one time authority to balance our current budget, preserve our credit rating and keep New York afloat."
Members of the state Senate said today the will not allow Gov. Paterson to take the reins on the issue -- and a source indicated that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is of the same opinion.
"The people of New York have waited too long. Cut this deficit or I will do it myself," said the governor. "I stand willing and responsible to preserve the future of New York's finances."
"If the Legislature is unwilling to do what needs to be done, I will."
New York Gov. David Paterson is now taking $1.6 billion worth of temporary, emergency measures to cover the state's December bills. That's while he's continuing to try to get the Legislature to agree with $1.4 billion more to address a deficit.
Most of the immediate action involves shifting money from state agencies to the general fund, which must be returned to the agencies within four months under law. He also says he will temporarily use some cash from previously scheduled borrowing for capital projects.
Two major pieces are less certain. He plans to get $200 million from the group yet to be chosen to put video slot machines at Aqueduct race track, a process delayed for years. He also seeks $250 from the Battery Park City Authority, but that requires approval from City Hall.