Paterson on Being Grinchy When Grinchiness Is Called For

ALBANY—Fiscally, New York is in a “state of emergency,” David Paterson said this morning, and legislators need to accept responsibility and tell the public the hard truth.

“There is a significant representation that does care, but as much as they can, they are going to have to fight off the distraction from all of these messages,” Paterson told John Gambling this morning on WOR. “The fact is that we are spending at a rate that the state can’t support, and if we don’t reduce it there’s going to be a collapse.”

Paterson has proposed some $3 billion worth of mid-year budget adjustments to bridge a growing deficit, but legislative leaders (and special interests) are resisting his proposal for cuts to education and Medicaid.

Paterson offered Gambling this analogy: “Many families who are struggling are going to come to the unfortunate decision that they’re going to tell their children, over the holidays, ‘we’re not going to be able to have holiday gifts this year,’ and the children are going to be very upset. But they’ll be able to pay the rent in January. That’s, in a way, what we in government should be telling the public.”

“You don’t always tell the public what the public wants to hear. And obviously, this is an election year and the legislators get re-elected by 98 percent,” Paterson, who has staked his political rehabilitation on dealing with this fiscal morass, said. “I’m the one who’s really in the most danger. I’m telling the public the truth because what ever happens, when I run for re-election it will be borne out, if we don’t make a change in our basic culture and policy, that what I’m saying is right.”