Tick Tock: Paterson Prepares State for Gov't Shutdown

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP/Getty Images
    The clock is ticking.

    The Paterson administration is preparing state agencies for a potential state government shutdown that could begin as early as Monday at midnight.

    The governor is set to release his latest emergency spending bill soon, and a government shutdown could depend on what he puts in it. A statewide conference call sought to prepare departments for a shutdown if an emergency spending bill is rejected, said three state officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because sensitive budget negotiations continue between the governor and legislative leaders.

    The bill is scheduled to be voted on Monday and will likely include deep cuts in human service and mental hygiene programs to confront a deficit of biillions of dollars in a budget now more than two months late. Paterson is also considering cost-cutting proposals from the Senate's Republican minority. He may need to include some GOP ideas to attract at least a vote or two if the bill is to pass in the Senate, where the Democrats' majority is razor thin.

    If the Senate rejects the bill Monday, government would begin shutting down. Some of the services that could be stopped under a shutdown include safety inspections, lottery games, parks and campgrounds, courts and unemployment offices.

    It wasn't immediately known when on Friday the bill would be released.

    Kenneth Brynien, president of the powerful New York State Public Employees union, said in a statement that a government shutdown would be unnecessary and a waste of resources.

    "While Gov. Paterson is telling agencies to bar state employees from working, he is telling them it is okay to use costly contract consultants to fill the void," Brynien said. "Holding New York state's work force and the citizens who rely on state services hostage as a part of budget negotiations is unconscionable."

    The talk of a shutdown prompted state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to issue a terse warning as he released his own list of services that would be suspended in a shutdown.

    "Stop talking about a government shutdown and get to work and pass a budget," DiNapoli said. "Instead of playing games with extender bills, it's time to get down to the real task at hand: passing a budget that makes the hard choices about spending that need to be made to put New York back on the road to fiscal sanity.

    DiNapoli's list of services on the line included:

    —Businesses wouldn't get paid for goods and services provided after June 13.

    —Social service payments for children and family services including welfare and food stamps would be frozen.

    —Schools wouldn't get funding for education of homeless children.

    —153,000 state employees wouldn't get paid on June 23 as scheduled, though bond holders, retirees and taxpayers owed refunds would be paid because that spending requires no legislative authorization.