Paterson Says Legislators Could Have Better Spread Cutting Pain

ALBANY—Don’t like those school cuts? Blame your legislator.

“The legislature, had they passed the wealth-based plan that I initiated, we wouldn’t be here. The fact is they didn’t do anything. The only thing they did was take $391 million of stimulus money from next year and used it to fill the gap in 2009,” David Paterson told Errol Louis on WWRL, continuing his legislative bashing. “If the legislature had done it, we could have protected these school districts. I’m now across-the board reducing those payments.”

Louis asked Paterson whether special interest groups–such as unions representing teachers and hospital workers–are to blame for the crisis. Paterson said they were doing their jobs. He again blamed legislators.

“The shame of it is that elected officials whose job it was to address this left Albany, left a half billion gap and dumped the whole thing on me. Then they want to sue me because I want to keep the state from becoming insolvent,” Paterson said. “I think the real lesson to be learned here, Errol, is that actions have consequences and choices matter. People are going to remember who stuck their head up and who stuck their head in the sand, and shirked their responsibility.”

Two other choice quotes from the interview:

First, Paterson explained his confidence that a court would uphold his mid-year cuts. “Hey listen: I hope that these groups keep suing me. They’re not going to beat me. I said that in the lieutenant governor race and everyone laughed at me, and who’s laughing now? We have a lieutenant governor.

And then, as he complained about Wall Street firms not paying bonuses and how it de-stocked state coffers, he quoted Barack Obama’s admonishment of bankers this Sunday. Paterson, not on the best terms with Obama, gave a speech last week defending Wall Street.

“I’m not interested in helping any fat cats on Wall Street, but if we don’t pay the bonuses, who gets the money?” Paterson said.