Paterson Softening on $3.2 Billion Figure

ALBANY—That $3.2 billion deficit number was just a suggestion, it looks like.

“As I see it, one deficit, one plan,” David Paterson told reporters after a meeting with legislative leaders. “I mean, I can’t comment on what different people are saying. I’m talking to the leaders. We have a $3.2 billion plan. I mean, I’m sure if it wasn’t exactly $3.2 billion that we could work with that. But at the same time, it’s not the amount; it’s how much are we really cutting. In an emergency we’re going to have to do some extraordinary measures that we normally wouldn’t do, but I want to do the right thing for the people of New York, and I think the right thing is that there are serious cuts here. Because: we’re facing a $6.8 billion deficit in the spring, one that I believe–and I don’t have any information to document this–but I believe can grow to $8 to $9 billion, only because it keeps happening every time, and I’m just saying that it could happen again.”

Senate President Malcolm Smith suggested earlier today that he would a deal for less than $3.2 billion might be struck, and Sheldon Silver seemed similarly amenable when asked after a press conference on DWI penalties.

Paterson was asked if he would keep the legislators in Albany until the deal was done.

“I’m not going to threaten the legislators,” Paterson began, “but I want them to know that I want this DRP done and I want it done now. This is a real deficit. I want to see 40 percent of it recurring, and that is the prescription that the state needs, and I think that will help us to pay off our creditors in December and maintain the fiscal integrity of the state.”

(Thanks to Kyle Hughes of nysnys.com, who played a tape of this scrum for me to write from.)