Paterson Warns Against Counting Eggs That Aren’t in the Basket

ALBANY—David Paterson seemed to be having a pretty good time at lunch today, bragging to county officials about how he and legislative leaders had bridged a $1.6 billion deficit in this fiscal year’s budget without counting in a dime of federal stimulus money, when he started in complaining about lawmakers he sees as less fiscally responsible.

“Those who went out and talked about the [stimulus] money as if it was here, factored it into their own budget—you have learned about counting all those eggs that aren’t in your basket,” Paterson said. “You have to wait and see what money actually becomes available before you budget it out, as we’ve seen time and time again in the last few weeks. And I hope those that did—whose names I won’t mention, but they know who they are—I hope they’ve learned a lesson from this process.”

Later, announcing the selection of Nancy Zimpher to head SUNY, Paterson repeated the point, saying, “People are actually paying down their budget deficit with IOU’s that are coming from the stimulus package, and it hasn’t been passed yet.”

He never did mention any names, but Michael Bloomberg’s comes to mind. The mayor’s proposed budget counts on federal aid to avoid, or mitigate, layoffs.

When asked if he was referring to Bloomberg, Paterson said, “Two billion dollars in Mayor Bloomberg’s budget does come from the federal stimulus for Medicaid, but I’m sure that that money will be there. I’m just saying that they haven’t passed that budget. That’s a proposal. But when it comes time to pass it, there have to be real and recurring revenues and I’m sure you’ll have them.”

Paterson Warns Against Counting Eggs That Aren’t in the Basket