Paterson on Pre-Session Legislature: ‘This Does Not Bode Well’

ALBANY—David Paterson said he is “disappointed” with the actions of the legislature ahead of a special session that will begin tomorrow with the goal of attempting to bridge an expected $1.5 billion year-end deficit in the budget.

“While our actions were exactly the same as they were on August 18, right before our August 19 emergency economic conference in the summer, what is different in this process is that there has been no negotiation,” Paterson said. “There has been no attempt to change any of our figures. That disappoints me. There must have been some ideas that could have been lodged in favor of a three-way agreement.”

“This does not bode well for tomorrow’s session,” he said. speaking from New York City on a conference call with reporters. 

Republicans in control of the State Senate remain firm that mid-year cuts to education—Paterson proposed reducing school aid by $800 million—are unacceptable. Senator Hugh Farley said this morning, “You can do anything planning ahead, but after you’ve made contracts and hired people, to do it mid-term, that is weird.”

In a statement issued this morning, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said his conference—which will meet tonight—has been hobbled because the governor hasn’t formally introduced bills enacting what he has proposed.

“I again ask the governor to give us bills that we can discuss in conference later today with an eye toward putting the bills up for a vote by the Senate at the special session tomorrow,” Skelos said.

Paterson called the request a “farce” and added that drafts of the bills have been available online for over a week.

Assembly Democrats, led by Sheldon Silver, have expressed tepid support for the governor’s measures, but there have been no official details. Silver’s conference is also expected to meet tonight.