Paterson Proposes Furloughs for State Workers

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010  |  Updated 4:02 PM EDT
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Governor David Paterson Tuesday announced his intention to include one furlough day per week for most state workers -- saying the move has become necessary because of the state's spiraling budget problems and the refusal of unions to reopen contracts or accept other concessions.

"I have sought to work with the State's public employee unions in order to help achieve the savings needed to address our State's historic budget deficit, but, thus far, they have been unwilling to do what is necessary," Paterson said. "The State is facing fiscal and cash crises of unprecedented magnitude, and I am being forced to implement difficult actions such as this in order to put our State on the path to recovery," he said.

Paterson would seek legislative approval for the move -- sure to be unpopular among state workers. 

Paterson also submitted legislation to close what he said was an additional $620 million budget gap that has opened -- and added to the original $9 billion shortfall -- as the State legislature debates a new budget.  The deadline for the new budget was due March 31.

Absent the passage of a budget, Gov. Paterson said today he will call on State lawmakers to voluntarily begin five-day sessions next week.

"Every day that passes without an enacted budget, we lose savings from the recurring spending reductions and revenue proposals that I laid out in my Executive Budget. It has been nearly four weeks since the 2010-11 State fiscal year began, and we can no longer delay making the difficult decisions required to put the State back on path toward fiscal stability," he said.

The showdown over furloughs — which would affect about 100,000 state workers — does not appear to be imminent, The New York Times reported.

Using the emergency bill as a vehicle for the furloughs was “something we’re contemplating,” said Robert L. Megna, the state budget director told the newspaper. “As of tomorrow, we’re going to put it up as a separate bill.”

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