Governor David Paterson has been reviled by members of the State Legislature, and others, for his alleged incompetence in the face of a dire fiscal crisis.
But, whether or not he is following the right course, it’s clear that this governor has what this Legislature lacks: guts.
For months he’s been imploring the State Senate and the Assembly to deal with the financial crisis. Law makers have either ignored his repeated requests or sniped at him for his alleged ineptitude.
So now, finally, the Governor is unilaterally withholding $750 million in scheduled payments to schools and local governments. It amounts, the Times says, to a reduction of 10 to 19 percent in funds for schools, social service providers, health insurance, cities and counties.
Some legislators say the action is illegal because only they are empowered to make cuts. But the Governor has said he is "well within the bounds of legal authority."
Staying vague about the future, Paterson said the reductions would be restored "as sufficient revenues become available."
Last month Paterson threatened to make cuts if the Legislature didn’t deal with a 3.2 billion dollar budget deficit. He has kept his promise and the question is: what happens next?
Paterson said: "The reason we don’t have a permanent fix is because the Legislature walked away and ran back to their districts and told their constituents: "Look, I saved the school district from the big bad governor."
The spokesman for the Democratic majority in the Senate, Austin Shafran, accused the Governor of "self-indulgent theatrics," saying New Yorkers wanted their leaders to work together to get things done.
"Taking money away from school children should not be under consideration," said Shafran.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said, "if Paterson is trying to get people to recognize that we’ve run out of money, fine, But there will be human consequences."
The Citizens Budget Commission, a private watchdog group, meanwhile praised the Governor for following "the right course of action."
You can accuse Paterson of being ineffective in some respects. But what a band of bozos he faces in the Legislature! These guys have allowed this situation to drift -- and now they’re ready to put the blame on to Paterson.
It’s time for sanity in Albany. And, if this crisis doesn’t bring it on, I don’t know what will.
The money has run out and, unfortunately, major budget items like education are where the money is -- and that’s where reductions have to be made.