Paterson Plans Layoffs to Shore Up State Budget

Gov. David Paterson is putting together a plan that would lay off thousands of government workers at the beginning of next year to help balance the state budget.

Paterson said he'll direct state agencies to begin picking positions that could be eliminated starting Jan. 1.

That date marks the expiration of the no-layoffs pledge Paterson gave public employee unions last year in exchange for an agreement to reduce pension costs. It would also be the day Paterson leaves office.

"It's the only way we're going to get $250 million in work force reductions from public employees. ... We are in the elementary stages of establishing a plan,'' Paterson said. "The reality is right now it takes a long period of time to schedule the layoffs. I want this ready to go for the next governor.''

Paterson has been calling for concessions from state worker unions, including a delay in a 4 percent raise that was scheduled to kick in April 1.

“It’s going to take a few months to put together the plan,” an official familiar with the plan told the New York Times. “We’re going to use that as an opportunity to further restructure the government and look at programs and departments we may need to eliminate.

“State government has gotten too expensive. It can’t be everything to everybody. The timing also gives the next administration a chance to look at the plan.”

The leading candidates for governor of both major parties — Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, and Rick A. Lazio, a Republican, have signaled that they would seek to shrink the state’s work force if elected.

State leaders are facing a $9.2 billion deficit this year and still haven't completed a budget for the fiscal year that began April 1. 

On Friday, A federal judge sided with state worker unions, throwing out Paterson's proposal for one-day-a-week furloughs for state workers.

Judge Lawrence Kahn ruled Paterson's furlough proposal would be put permanently on hold and said that the governor's attempt to withhold 4 percent pay raises from unionized workers since April 1 violated the terms of existing union contracts.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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