Now Paterson Wants a Spending Cap

ALBANY—The latest play by the suddenly offensive-minded David Paterson is not a typical proposal for a liberal Democrat: a legally mandated cap on state spending.

The proposal, which Paterson said he will put before the state legislature soon, would take an average of the past three years' inflation rate, and restrict the state operating funds budget to growing within that margin. The capital budget would not be included, Paterson said. But if it were enacted in 2000, Paterson said it would have meant $17 billion in savings–enough to cover this year's budget deficit.

"We are going to ask that our government do what everyone else do–that is live within our means," he said at a press conference in the Red Room.

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos called it "too little, too late" in a statement and noted that his conference in recent years passed a constitutional amendment to cap spending. It, of course, never passed in the Assembly. Paterson was asked if he was borrowing from the G.O.P.

"I think that the Senate Republicans made a very good point about the spending, and the need to limit it. And they arrived at that point certainly before I did," Paterson said.