ALBANY—Here’s David Paterson’s dance: he knows he’s not going to do any better than the $2.8 billion deficit reduction package legislators have agreed to, but he has to attack it so he can keep up his message that he’s a fiscal hawk, and tamer of the unruly legislature.
“I would not describe it as a deal, Ken. Because a deal means that all parties accept the agreement,” Paterson told reporters during a Red Room ceremony. “This proposal for $2.8 billion of deficit reduction, includes $1.6 billion that I’m reducing myself and $400 million of stimulus dollars that we’re actually supposed to use next year.”
“It does give us about $600 million in cuts, and some other measures that require legislative approval, so we will not cut off our nose to spite our face,” he continued. “I will accept it, and I will help them in any way to set up the legislation so it can be passed and signed. The one thing that I’m not going to do is submit the bill for less than what I’ve proposed, because I don’t feel it addresses the culture around here of addressing problems of 50 or 60 percent.”
Exactly how things will transpire from agreement to bill to law remains unclear. No bill has been printed. This is an extraordinary session, so all legislation must come from Paterson’s office. It’s possible that legislators could amend the bill he already sent them to reflect the agreement. (Their hands are tied in this regard–they can only add or subtract dollar amounts, they can’t re-write the words which describe the spending.) It’s also possible, Paterson suggested, that he will send the bill in pieces and force legislators to vote “no” on certain aspects of it. If new bills are sent, they would require “messages of necessity” from Paterson to be passed without aging three days.
Paterson’s spokesman Peter Kauffmann said “this is a process that’s playing out right now.” Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver met this morning in Silver’s office. Sampson said on his way out that there were no stumbling blocks, but that “we have our staff working on a compromise. I mean, that’s all I know at this point in time. I think a compromise with all parties. As of–what time is it–11 o’clock there is no agreement just yet. We’re working towards an agreement. So we can have an agreement by 12, 1, 2.”
But no bills indicates a long night. (It also means there’s not going to be a lot of time for detailed public review.) But lawmakers seem united in their desire to get this voted on today, and possibly move on to consider same-sex marriage legislation.