Gov. David Paterson scolded some lawmakers Thursday for quibbling over where to spend federal stimulus funds during a crisis that he said they just don't understand.
Republican and Democratic legislators, however, say Paterson can't use the excuse of speedy spending required by the Obama administration to avoid greater participation by lawmakers who want what they consider a fair distribution of the money.
"We're in an emergency, we're in a crisis," Paterson said.
"One of the things that is disturbing me about a lot of people right now is they acknowledge that we are in a crisis in the academic sense, but then when you try to respond to the crisis, you start hearing regional and political interests."
Paterson said the state's crisis is like a house fire, it doesn't matter which wing a firefighter goes to ``as long as he's getting people out of the building and trying to save everybody. I don't think we should be quibbling over that.
"And this is just the latest in a long example of individuals who do not understand that the state is teetering on the verge of insolvency if we don't get people back to work and generate revenues," Paterson told WNYC radio's Brian Lehrer.
Paterson created a cabinet of top agency officials who have been working with local government officials for weeks to begin vetting and selecting hundreds of potential bridge, highway, drinking water and other projects. The cabinet also briefed lawmakers this week, after the first 11 projects were announced, and the cabinet posts projects under consideration on a Web site.
Paterson met with lawmakers Wednesday to discuss how his administration is working local government officials, the public and state legislators to choose the "shovel-ready" public works projects that will be funded from a roughly $4 billion oiece of the stimulus money.
Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos called that window dressing.
"He's totally wrong," the Nassau County Republican told reporters. "The question is, should we abandon treating each part of the state fairly?"
New York is getting more than $24 billion over two years from the federal economic stimulus act signed into law last week. Some of the public works projects must be ready to go in as little as 120 days.