Who Will Pay for Ravitch’s Staff?

ALBANY—Richard Ravitch announced he intends to hire some staff, but the budget for the Office of Lieutenant Governor was eliminated this year.

This makes sense: the state is facing a fiscal crisis and there was no lieutenant governor, and no one foresaw (in March or April) the appointment of Richard Ravitch to the post. But things had changed by July, with the State Senate crippled by a month-long stalemate. David Paterson appointed Ravitch to the post, a move that was just sustained by the state's highest court.

"I certainly need a little help, but I don't intend to engage a large staff," Ravitch told reporters on a Tuesday conference call. "The state has a Budget Division that has people that are very able and experienced. People I've already gotten to know, and working with them, and I will continue to work with them. Yes I will need some logistical help, but of a minor nature. And I hope that the other tasks that I demand to perform on behalf of the governor and the state, if I need help, I have no doubt that I'll be able to get it."

While the 2008-09 budget included $1.378 million for the office–most of it budgeted for staff–it was ostensibly never spent. David Paterson became governor on March 17, and the 08-09 budget was signed into law on April 23. This year's executive budget did not propose any funding for the office of the Lieutenant Governor, and none was present in the adopted budget.

I asked the Division of the Budget on Thursday where the money for any of Ravitch's staff would come from; they referred me to Paterson's press office. I still haven't heard back.