ALBANY—No deficit reduction plans today. Tomorrow.
Financial staffers for the various legislative conferences met with Budget Director Bob Megna, but he did not present details of what was coming. The expectation, from Megna's perspective, was that legislative leaders would come to the table with ideas for spending reductions, pursuant to a request last week. Legislators are expecting the executive to lead.
So as often happens here, nothing happened. The mid-year deficit is around $3 billion.
"It was not much different then whatever happens whenever there's a meeting with the governor: nothing," State Senator Carl Kruger, the chairman of that chamber's finance committee, told me by phone. (Neither he nor David Paterson was in the meeting today; it was at the staff-level.)
Paterson, speaking at an event in Hawthorne, said that "I'm going to announce ways to try to close tomorrow." The expectation is that the governor will do so at an event in Albany, and several legislative sources have said October 28 will be the date for a special session.
Paterson said news of an improving economy–and perhaps a better revenue forecast–does not apply to the immediate deficit, though it is a positive sign for the 2010-2011 budget.
"We want to close the deficit as it is. But certainly in terms of our forecast, it would not help us right now because we have payments we have to make in December and we have other obligations where we must have a balanced budget so as not to potentially injure our credit rating," he said. "We need to stay out of the economic hardship. Some of these people are saying ‘let's take care of it next spring;' they should go run the Mets or something. In a situation where they're managing based on fiscal policy, this is a problem for right now. And right now, we've got to keep our economic condition stabilized."
Paterson was asked for a preview of his plan.
"You ready?" He asked. "Pain."