ALBANY—David Paterson is softening on his proposed cuts to health care, and says that as negotiations continue on a deficit reduction package for the state, legislators can go home.
“We’ll continue the dialogue. I’ll probably have a leaders meeting in the interim to keep us where they are, and bring the legislature in next Monday and Tuesday to complete this deficit reduction program,” Paterson said, noting he would call a special session tomorrow except that it’s Veterans’ Day.
In a roundtable discussion with LCA reporters–no video cameras were allowed; no Red Room splendor–Paterson said that negotiations were accelerated by the special session he called, but that an agreement is still not firm.
“They’ve come to the table,” Paterson said of legislators. “We have been trying to get people to realize that there is a deficit, there is a cash-flow problem, and not really until the last 24-48 hours did we see results.”
He said that he was willing to back away from a proposed $287 million cut to Medicaid, because it would be amplified by federal reimbursement. “I think that at this point, the Assembly particularly wants to sit down and show us some proposals about how we can get the $287 million, most of it from other health care interests without igniting the matching issue.”
He was not softening his stance on education cuts, which he also proposed. The special session Monday will contain the same list of items he proposed for today.
Paterson was asked about the State Senate, which has been obstinate in the face of the education and health care cuts, and whether they’re coming around.
“What I think is…I can’t explain the dynamic of the Senate, because nobody can. But Senator Sampson has been quite productive in his conversations with us,” Paterson said. “They’ve come to the table. They’re now talking about…I don’t want to infringe upon their negotiation.”
I asked Paterson why next week would be more productive toward a deal than this week was.
“Well next week’s another week; you’ve only seen the first act,” Paterson replied.