With fears of a government shutdown next week looming larger by the day, Governor Paterson threw some bombs this morning at Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., the Democrats’ chief dissident on budget matters.
Speaking on The Brian Lehrer Show, Paterson responded to Espada’s statements that he would not vote for cuts that are slipped into weekly emergency budget extenders, and that a budget deal is close—with only a gap of about $1 billion to close.
“That is absolutely incorrect—that is so obtuse,” Paterson said. “That is a gimmick designed to make everyone think everything is fine. He should have been an orchestra soloist on the Titanic.”
Violinists-on-sinking-ship references aside, Paterson had five radio appearances scheduled for this morning, part of an effort to highlight the logjam he’s currently in with the Legislature, as it’s unclear whether there will be enough votes in the Senate on Monday to pass the weekly extender. Without the extender, state government would shut down, a first in New York’s history.
Espada, Senator Ruben Diaz and the Senate Republicans have said they may vote against the budget extender, as the governor has started to include some of the less contentious cuts into the weekly legislation. The Senate would need all 32 Democrats or some Republicans to vote in order to pass the bill. Seeing the slim margin, Paterson yesterday publicly pressured Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos on the issue, asking for a few votes.
“We are living on the margin of our means; we’re getting closer and closer to an insolvent state,” Paterson said.
The governor was apparently calling in from home for the interview, as he was repeatedly interrupted by a barking dog in the background.
He was asked about the sound:
“That’s my wife’s puppy in the background, probably expressing his view about the state budget.”