Governor Paterson today pledged to move forward again with his strategy of forcing the Legislature to approve emergency budget extenders that include budget cuts, saying he’d focus this week on economic development, transportation, and public protection.
But in a call with reporters, the governor also displayed a few glimmers of appeasement. For one, he said he would first introduce the proposed cuts in a budget bill this week, which, unlike an emergency extender, could be amended. (“I’m trying not to put a gun to the Legislature’s head,” he said, although it could be said that’s exactly what hes’ been doing in the past two budget extenders.)
He also suggested he was holding off on putting cuts to education in the weekly budget extenders (which come as the budget is more than two months past due), so as not to have a major standoff with the Legislature.
Here’s what he said in the call:
“Because of the value of school aid to the legislative leaders, I am trying to get them to make an agreement. I wasn’t going to dump billions of dollars of cuts into one extender, which I think would be trying to gouge the legislature, or be abusive.
I’m doing it in a away that they can address each issue separately, and I’ve obviously held this one back, because I would much prefer for them to come to an agreement rather than for me to force a confrontation.”
At the same time, the governor also readied a moniker for legislators, should the Senate reject his budget bills and cause a government shutdown: “Senator Shutdown.”
This was in reference to a statement by Republican Hugh Farley, who said he would not cross the aisle again to vote for an extender with cuts:
“If he doesn’t vote for it on Monday, he and the others who shut down the government will be known as ‘Senator Shutdown’, and I don’t think that will be a good way to be remembered.”
Finally, the governor said he is looking into moving up layoffs, initially scheduled to start next year.
“I want to get a sense of what the cost savings would be from early retirement, and then we’ll look at layoffs,” he said. “The more I think about it, I don’t want it on my conscience that I created a layoff plan for the next governor. You have to step up and do it yourself.”
This, presumably, will not play too well with the Legislature going into an election year.