Paterson: Cut My Way, Or Give Me the Power to Cut My Way

ALBANY—David Paterson today sent the legislature two bills to consider: his $3 billion plan to bridge the deficit, as unveiled in October and an “executive option proposal” that seems like a fiscal version of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.

“This would grant me, as governor, a one-time authority to balance our budget, preserve our credit rating and keep New York afloat,” Paterson said in a four-minute speech webcast speech. “Please note the fate of so many other states that did not take this action. Cut this deficit with me or I’ll do it myself.”

It was not immediately clear what Constitutional or legal basis this measure would have, but Paterson is one for one in the Court of Appeals with Constitutionally dubious things.

Calling the current situation a “lack of cash crisis” and “unprecedented fiscal emergency,” Paterson called for action and blamed a politically timid legislature for being unwilling to act on cuts.

“I ask for simply an up-or-down vote on that proposal,” Paterson said. “I understand that many legislators are afraid of the political consequences they will face if they approve this proposal. But this is in stark contrast with the fiscal reality that faces New York. So we cannot have any political issues here and we certainly cannot have the paralysis of these legislators undermining the future of this state.”

Republicans have been calling for a bill to vote on for several days. Such a vote would be politically hard for many of Paterson’s fellow Democrats in the legislature, who would have to choose between what could be argued is the fiscally responsible thing to do and a very unpopular vote to cut school aid in the middle of the year.

While Paterson can send the bills to the legislature in an extraordinary session, it is not required to vote on them.

It’s unclear what effect this wil have on ongoing negotiations toward an agreed-upon deficit reduction plan, but it does appear to be a warm one.

Below are copies of the bill text and explanatory memo for Paterson’s “executive option proposal.”

Paterson Budgetonkin Memo
Paterson Budgetonkin Bill