Paterson: We Have to Act on the Deficit Now

ALBANY—David Paterson said he wants to avoid layoffs or furloughs for state employees, but reiterated that "everything is on the table" as state officials deal with a mid-year budget gap.

"Any time we can find a way to save jobs, we should do that," Paterson said at an event in Manhattan with the Israeli trade minister. "We have not had to furlough or lay off any workers. But the means of balancing budgets are becoming less and less available, and everything is on the table. We are going to have to make sure that New York can still meet its obligations."

"However," Paterson continued, "in trying to balance a $2.1 billion budget, we cannot go too much longer without addressing it or we will threaten our ability to meet obligations. So anybody who's saying we should wait around until next spring so we can see whether or not the economy comes back: I just repeat that New York's reaction to recession-type economies has been to recover from 11 to 20 months more slowly than the rest of the country. So you may things are turning around, every indication is things are turning around. A $2.1 billion deficit in September that has grown out of the last budget agreement that we reached demonstrates that things have not turned around in New York and we must act accordingly."

That's a shot at Senate President Malcolm Smith, who this morning said that it wouldn't hurt to wait for another quarter before acting on the deficit. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson both said they don't think members should return to the capitol until there is a deficit deal.

Paterson said that those who consider this to be a mild economic downturn are pushing an agenda.

"A mild downturn in the economy? That would really make me wonder about the stability of anyone who could make a remark like that," he said. "But people think if they can lobby loud enough that threaten hard enough, that there's gong to be a reaction. We in government have no choice. Our service is to the people." Paterson: We Have to Act on the Deficit Now